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Bipartisan Legislation Underscores Need for Transparency and Accountability Within USCIS

CONTACTS:
George Tzamaras
202-507-7649
gtzamaras@aila.org
Belle Woods
202-507-7675
bwoods@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomes a new bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives that will hold United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accountable for severe case processing delays and an ever-growing immigration backlog. The “Case Backlog and Transparency Act of 2020” (H.R. 5971) was introduced today by Representative Cardenas (D-CA), and Representative Stivers (R-OH), to ensure that USCIS provides visibility into what is causing the backlog and a plan on how to fix it.

AILA President Marketa Lindt stated, “This vital, bipartisan legislation is a necessary step in the pursuit of greater transparency and accountability within USCIS. For months, AILA and its members have shared clients’ mounting frustration with the ever-increasing case processing delays at USCIS and the detrimental impact of those delays on families, vulnerable individuals and U.S. businesses. Far too many have been in limbo for months, if not years, while they wait to be reunited with family members or renew their work authorization, simply because USCIS has failed to act on their applications in a timely and efficient manner. Last year, USCIS’s own data, analyzed by AILA, revealed a massive and still growing backlog of cases pending outside of target processing times, showing that there was over a 90 percent increase in processing times from FY 2014 through FY 2018. Upon review of that analysis, and following my testimony before the House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, Congress demanded an explanation from USCIS, demands that have thus far not been met in a satisfactory way.”

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson added, “Today, both sides of the aisle are coming together to confront the need for more efficient and transparent USCIS policies. USCIS’s latest data shows that the agency continues to move in the wrong direction, which makes this legislation necessary. Based on a new policy brief published by AILA this week, there has been more than a 100 percent increase in case processing times since FY 2014. The new data also shows that the overall average case processing time rose another 25 percent over the past two years, despite a 10 percent decrease in cases over the same period. The Case Backlog and Transparency Act will provide critical information on the status of the backlog, the factors behind it, and potential solutions. By strengthening reporting requirements, USCIS will be held to their statutory mandate.”

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members. Follow the latest AILA news and information on ThinkImmigration.org and Twitter @AILANational.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20022637.