WASHINGTON, DC, May 15, 2019 – A bipartisan group of 36 United States Senators sent two letters to the administration, calling it to account for the crisis-level case processing delays at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These letters-one sent to USCIS Director Francis Cissna, the other to CIS Ombudsman Julie Kirchner-cite the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)’s January 2019 report on USCIS’s agency-wide processing slowdown. Led by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the letters demand an assessment of how USCIS’s own policies contribute to this trend and call for concrete plans to eliminate the agency’s case backlog.
AILA President Anastasia Tonello stated, “AILA has made clear, through quantitative analysis of the agency’s own data and specific case examples provided by our members, that USCIS processing delays have reached crisis levels and continue to grow despite a significant drop in application rates and an increase in the agency’s budget. The consequences of these delays are dire. Business operations are being stalled, family reunification takes far longer, and vulnerable individuals are living in fear because the agency cannot decide their cases in a timely fashion. AILA thanks these 36 Senators, 18 Republicans and 18 Democrats, for coming together to work on these vital issues that impact us all. AILA calls for immediate hearings to examine the reasons for the delays and what solutions the agency has planned to address them. Those hearings can’t come soon enough as more people and businesses across the country are harmed by these delays every day.”
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Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director, noted, “The delays and backlogs at USCIS are at crisis levels. We thank the Senators for calling for USCIS accountability and transparency. America needs a strong, effective legal immigration system to keep businesses competitive and our families and communities strong. The increasing backlogs, delays, and inefficiencies at USCIS destroy plans and dreams, harming millions of individuals and U.S. businesses across the nation. AILA’s more than 15,000 members nationwide have been urging USCIS to address these delays, delays that are doing significant, sometimes irreparable, harm to their clients. To address these delays and the growing backlog of 5.6 million cases, Congress should not only conduct oversight hearings but also pass legislation to ensure greater transparency and accountability within USCIS.”