Previously, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency reported that it was facing a $1.2 billion budgetary shortfall and would need to furlough the vast majority of its employees. While the agency has reported that their financial situation has improved, they are still predicting a shortfall going into fiscal year 2021 and will likely still need assistance from Congress to make up the difference.
Critics of the agency point out that this budgetary crisis has been brewing for years, as the result of the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies—because USCIS, unlike many government agencies, is funded by fees from immigrants’ applications—not by taxpayers.
Immigrants make up 14% of the United States’s population, but 18% of health workers on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 crisis. Recent research by the Lost on the Frontline—a project by The Guardian and KHN—confirms that one-third of health care workers who have died from COVID-19 were born outside the United States.
About two-thirds of immigrants in Denver did not have an attorney represent them in their deportation cases. Now, because of shortfalls in the city’s legal aid fund, there may be more immigrants who do not get representation. As immigration is a civil offense, the burden is on immigrants who in most cases are tasked with facing an experienced attorney by themselves.