International U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may be closing their doors
The Trump Administration is working to close around two dozen U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices around the world. This is being done in a move that claims to save millions of dollars a year. However, many argue that this will slow down the legal immigration process and military citizenship applications. A spokeswoman for USCIS, Jessica Collins, states this is still in preliminary discussions. U.S. embassies and consulates would take on some of the workload leftover by these office closures.
Collins released a statement saying “the goal of any such shift would be to maximize USCIS resources that could then be reallocated, in part, to backlog reduction.” A cost analysis conducted a year ago revealed that these closures could save millions of dollars a year.
These USCIS offices help with legal immigration, family reunification, foreign adoptions, parole requests for humanitarian efforts, and military citizenship for military members who marry foreign nationals. They also provide expertise when it comes to many immigration issues.
Jessica Collins claims that shutting down these twenty three offices will not slow down immigration processes, as the transition will be done closely with Homeland Security and the State Department. Collins also says the refuge program won’t be affected at all, as that program is conducted by U.S. personnel who travel around the world for interviews.
Homeland Security has already taken steps to get ready for this shift in workload, but the State Department hasn’t commented on any concrete plans they have. In addition, there will possibly be some significant budget cuts for the department.
This change is supposed to maximize resources for the agency while allowing them to deal with a backlog applications.
Lee Francis Cissna, director of the State Department, stated that these closures would “ultimately assist our agency to more effectively meet its mission of fairly administering our nation’s lawful immigration system.” Supposedly, closing these offices would not do anything to disturb day-to-day operations.
However, policy analysist at the Migration Policy Institute Sarah Pierce argued against this plan. She claims closing these offices will lead to fewer opportunities for those who wish to seek asylum. Trump and his administration already cut the number of refugees allowed each year. In 2018, it was forty-five thousand, but in 2019 the number had been reduced to thirty-thousand. This was claimed to be because of a backlog of asylum cases.
If the backlog gets bigger, there could be another reduction to the number of allowable refugees.
Alan Bersin, the former senior official for Homeland Security, called this transformation dramatic and a disaster, claiming it is an issue that deserved to be studied more than it was. He called it “a closing of the door and the snuffing out of the light on the top of the Statue of Liberty.” In addition, he feels Cissna may be trying to tighten the USCIS budget because of pressure he is receiving from administration.
Pierce claims “It’s yet another step that USCIS has taken that slows the processing of refugee applications and will slow customer service in general.”