U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is facing a massive budget shortfall of $1.2 billion dollars and has reached out to Congress to ask for more funding.
About 95% of USCIS operating budget is derived from application and related fees collected from its customers. However, because of the current coronavirus crisis as well as the Trump administration’s increased immigration restrictions, there have been fewer applications.
Now, in addition to fee increases that were already scheduled, the agency is floating a 10% surcharge on applications, which will hit vulnerable immigrants even harder.
The Trump administration has extended an order from the Centers for Disease Control indefinitely to allow for migrants who arrive at the border to be immediately returned to their home country.
While the Trump administration has defended the order as a reasonable measure to halt the spread of the coronavirus, public health officials have spoken out against the order, citing the fact that the administration has not taken steps to ensure that asylum applicants can still apply for humanitarian protections.
Undocumented families were excluded from the federal government’s CARES Act, which was meant to provide working families with relief from the damage caused by the coronavirus. While the fund, the first of its kind in the country, has $125 million, it is estimated that this will help 150,000 families in California—which is home to about two million undocumented people.
Nonprofits that are helping the state distribute the funds reported being overwhelmed with calls—one nonprofit organization, in fact, received more than one million calls on the first day the program was live from people attempting to receive aid. The website about the program was also down for hours the day the program was launched.