AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

Rescission of Furlough Threats Is an Important First Step in Holding USCIS Accountable

8/25/20 AILA Doc. No. 20082530.

August 25, 2020

George Tzamaras,
Tessa Wiseman,

Washington, DC – Today, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will cancel the current administrative furlough that was scheduled to begin on August 30, 2020, "as a result of unprecedented spending cuts and a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts.” The furlough would have impacted more than 13,000 employees, or nearly 70 percent of USCIS’s workforce.

AILA’s Director of Government Relations, Sharvari Dalal-Dheini, stated, “Today’s announcement, though welcome, could and should have been made far sooner, as reports have indicated for some time now that USCIS can indeed pay employees through the end of Fiscal Year 2020 and have a substantial carryover balance. Not only would the furlough have harmed the wellbeing of more than 13,000 USCIS employees—it would have also essentially shut down the agency’s operations, bringing the immigration system to a grinding halt and adding to the already crisis-level processing backlog. Rather than making the decision sooner, USCIS used its employees’ livelihoods and the immigration system as political pawns. This crisis is the direct result of gross mismanagement and policies that have made USCIS functionally unable to execute its mission of fair and efficient adjudications. While this battle to keep USCIS operational has been won, the war for USCIS transparency, fiscal responsibility, and efficiency rages on.”

AILA President Jennifer Minear added, “According to USCIS, it still plans to cutback contracts that will increase backlogs and wait times across the board. This reality underscores the immediate need for the Case Backlog and Transparency Act of 2020, which will hold USCIS accountable for severe case processing delays, an ever-growing immigration backlog, and counter-productive policies that have directly resulted in its budget crisis. Now more than ever, Congress and the public, and especially the customers of USCIS including attorneys and their clients, need visibility into what is causing the backlog, and a commonsense plan on how to fix it.”

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.