DearColleague.us

Letter

Adriano Espaillat

From the office of:

Adriano Espaillat

Sending Office: Honorable Adriano Espaillat
Sent By:
Todd.Sloves@mail.house.gov

Keep Overseas USCIS Field Offices OPEN!

**This is an appropriations report language request**

LAST CALL : Fill out
this form
to sign on

FY2021 signersEspaillat, C. Garcia, Bass, Blumenauer, Bonamici, Cardenas, Castor, Castro, Clarke (NY), Cohen, DeFazio, DeGette, DeLauro, DeSaulnier, Deutch, Engel, Escobar,  Foster, Grijalva, Hastings, Himes, H. Johnson,
Krishnamoorthi, Lowenthal, Malinowski, McGovern, Moulton, Norton, Omar, Raskin, Rice, Rouda, Rush, Sanchez, Schakowsky, Suozzi, Titus, Trone, Vargas, Welch

Dear Colleague,

We invite you to join us in requesting the Appropriations Committee prevent the Department of Homeland Security from closing Citizenship and Immigration offices overseas and instead increase resources for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
to reduce its caseload backlog.

Last year, the Washington Post, New York Times, and other news outlets

reported
that USCIS planned to close all of its international field offices operated by its International Operations Division. The agency operates two dozen offices in 21 countries. These offices are critical for assisting with refugee and asylum cases,
helping Americans who are adopting children from abroad, and processing applications to reunite families. What’s more, overseas staff also work to combat cases of immigration fraud. Given the quirks in our immigration system that often require prospective
immigrants to apply for an immigrant visa and manage their case from outside the United States, closing these offices would only make the process more difficult. It is clear that this is just another part of the Trump Administration’s broader xenophobic goal
of reducing legal immigration.

The administration claims that these resources will be redistributed to domestic offices in order to reduce caseload backlogs, but we reject this as a
false choice. We should build upon those investments by providing long-needed additional funding for USCIS and immigration courts to further reduce the backlogs as we work to fix the problems with our broken immigration system, and while maintaining
these important overseas field offices so they can continue to do the important work they carry out.

Thankfully, we were able to secure report language last year requiring USCIS to consult with stakeholders, staff and Congress before moving forward with the plan to reduce its International Operations Division. However, in the interim, USCIS closed

half
of these offices, and they are still planning to close the remaining offices by mid-March.

Please join us in requesting that the Appropriations Committee continue to include language that would prevent the closure of USCIS International Operations Division offices abroad. To sign on, please fill out the form at
this link. If you have any questions, you can contact Todd Sloves with Rep. Espaillat at
todd.sloves@mail.house.gov or 5-4365 or Lanette García with Rep. García at
lanette.garcia@mail.houes.gov or 5-8203.

Sincerely,

 

ADRIANO ESPAILLAT                                                       JESÚS G. “CHUY” GARCÍA

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

*******

Dear Chairwoman Roybal-Allard and Ranking Member Fleischmann:

As you prepare the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, we respectfully ask that you continue to include report language preventing United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from closing its International Operations
Division field offices and instead provide additional funds to assist with reducing the agency’s caseload backlog.

The International Operations Division at USCIS operated two dozen offices in 21 countries on five continents. These offices are critical for assisting with refugee and asylum cases, helping Americans who are adopting children from abroad, and processing
applications to reunite families. Overseas staff also work to combat cases of immigration fraud, an important agency mission that ensures our limited number of visas go to eligible individuals who have a right to petition for legal status under the
Immigration and Nationality Act. Given the quirks in our immigration system that often require prospective immigrants to apply for an immigrant visa and manage their case from outside the United States, closing these offices would only make the process
more difficult.

The administration claimed it would redistribute resources from closing international field offices to domestic offices in order to reduce caseload backlogs. Yet, at the same time, the President’s FY2020 Budget request included proposed increases in visa
application fees, including a “deficit reduction” surcharge that would not even fund agency operations. It would seem to be against the interests of prospective immigrants, the mandate of the agency, and the intent of Congress to levy additional fees that
will not even help to reduce caseload backlogs. We strongly believe the administration is presenting a false choice – USCIS can continue to operate its international field offices while finding other efficiencies to reduce its backlog of cases.

We appreciate your committee’s inclusion of language in last year’s report. However, in the interim, USCIS closed more than half of these offices. We must ensure that the remaining offices remain open, particularly given the high need in the nations where
they remain. We hope you will include the following language in the report to accompany this year’s Homeland Security Appropriations bill:

The Committee is concerned about USCIS’s plan to reduce its International Operations Division, particularly given the lack of congressional and stakeholder engagement, and reminds DHS of its responsibilities in carrying out the
Refugee Act of 1980. Prior to closing any further offices, USCIS is directed to consult with relevant stakeholders, to include USCIS personnel, and to brief the Committee and other congressional committees of jurisdiction on the rationale for the plan. The
briefing shall include a full accounting of anticipated increased costs, projected budget savings, and descriptions of how services will change, and personnel will be impacted.

USCIS International Operations Division field offices provide critical services that aid our immigration process and prospective immigrants. We believe the Trump Administration’s proposal to close these offices runs counter to its stated goal of helping
reduce the current backlog. Instead, we fear this is an ill-conceived attempt to reduce legal immigration by reducing access to the agencies that implement our immigration laws. We appreciate your attention to this important request.

Sincerely,

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Budget, Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, Immigration, Veterans

icon eDC logo e-Dear Colleague version 2.0
 
e-Dear Colleagues are intended for internal House use only.