Congress Should Fund the USCIS Shortfall While Ensuring Accountability

July 7, 2020

KIND Recommendations

USCIS Appropriations

Background: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is currently running a shortfall in its annual operating budget of an estimated $1.2 billion. Officials with the fee-funded agency have blamed the shortfall on the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, a number of factors have resulted in USCIS’s weak financial position, including the agency’s deviation from its primary statutory mandate: to function as a service-oriented immigration benefits agency that effectively facilitates immigration to the United States.1 In recent years, USCIS has implemented policies that restrict rather than facilitate immigration, making it difficult—and in some circumstances impossible—for unaccompanied children and other individuals who legally qualify for immigration benefits to obtain them.2 Well prior to the pandemic, these measures resulted in significant lost revenue by deterring or precluding fee-generating applications and petitions.

Provide Funding With Conditions: KIND supports supplemental appropriations for USCIS, including bill and report language to ensure USCIS policies and operations are aligned with its service-oriented mandate. KIND opposes any effort to withhold funds from USCIS, as this would exacerbate case processing delays and leave unaccompanied children and other applicants and petitioners without meaningful immigration benefits services.

To ensure that unaccompanied children have access to essential immigration benefits and that the agency adjudicates these children’s cases fairly and efficiently, KIND supports the following conditions:

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