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AILA Quicktake #282: Congress Introduces a Bipartisan Bill on USCIS Case Backlog

On February 26, 2020, Representatives Tony Cárdenas and Steve Stivers introduced the Case Backlog and Transparency Act of 2020 in the House. AILA's Director of Government Relations Sharvari Dalal-Dheini explains why this bill is an important step towards holding USCIS accountable.

Video Transcript

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For months, AILA members have shared client frustrations about the ever increasing
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case processing delays at USCIS
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and the disastrous effects it has on families, vulnerable individuals
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and U.S. businesses.
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AILA is pleased to announce that Congress has heard you!
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As a result of your advocacy, today, bipartisan legislation has been introduced
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demanding that USCIS be held accountable to Congress and the Public.
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Representative Tony Cardenas, a Democrat from California,
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and Representative Steve Stivers, a Republican from Ohio,
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put aside partisan politics and joined forces to introduce
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the Case Backlog and Transparency Act of 2020.
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They have heard from their constituents who have been in limbo for months,
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if not years, while they wait to be reunited with family members
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or to renew their work authorization, simply because USCIS has
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failed to act on their applications timely and efficiently.
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Last year, AILA analyzed USCIS’s own data to reveal a massive and still growing backlog
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of cases pending outside of target processing times.
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This analysis showed that there was over a 90% increase in processing times from
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FY 2014 through FY 2018.
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These statistics led Congress to demand an explanation from USCIS.
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During a Hearing in the House of Representatives in July of last year, USCIS acknowledged
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the growing backlog and claimed to be working on a plan to eliminate it.
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Despite this, USCIS’s latest data
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shows that the agency continues to move in the wrong direction.
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In a new policy brief published by AILA this week, we reveal that there has been
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a 101% increase in case processing times since FY14.
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The new data also shows that the overall average case processing time
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rose another 25% over the past two years.
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This is despite the fact that there was a 10% decrease
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in case receipts over the same period.
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This persistent rise demonstrates that urgent action is necessary now to reverse course.
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The Case Backlog and Transparency Act is designed to do just that.
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The goal is to provide visibility into the status of the backlog,
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the factors behind it, and potential solutions.
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By strengthening reporting requirements, the bill would promote timelier adjudications
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that align with USCIS’s statutory mandate.
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USCIS is supposed to efficiently administer the legal immigration system.
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It is supposed to meet the needs of families and companies throughout the country.
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And it is supposed to serve the public interest and ensure that the standards of good governance
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are being met regardless of who is in charge.
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On behalf of our 15,000 members,
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AILA thanks Representatives Cardenas and Stivers for championing
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this important issue.
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We stand ready to help get this bill enacted and will urge all members of Congress to hold
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USCIS Accountable by passing the Case Backlog and Transparency Act of 2020.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20022638.