USCIS spending cuts could further worsen backlog

  •  USCIS managed to avoid furloughing 70% of its employees – 13,000 people – back in August. However, Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow announced there would be “unprecedented spending cuts” that will “increase backlogs and wait times across the board.” The backlog of cases has steadily grown during the Trump administration, with one study from AILA recording that case processing time has surged by 91% from 2014 to 2019. The backlog is expected to affect anyone who is applying for immigration benefits through USCIS.
  • Trump administration still has not said how many refugees may be admitted to US this year. With the new fiscal year starting October 1, the Trump administration’s delay in announcing the refugee cap leaves most refugees in an uncertain position. Without a presidential determination on the cap, refugees cannot be resettled in the US. refugees had been admitted to the US as of August 31 – only half of the refugee ceiling of 18,000 set last year. Democratic leaders from Congress sent a letter to the Trump administration in early September, urging officials to “engage in meaningful consultations with Congress.” The State Department declined to comment while deliberations are occurring.
  • Court sides with House Democrats in challenge to Trump’s border wall spending. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously backed Congress and ruled that House Democrats could proceed with their lawsuit against the President. House Democrats went to court claiming Trump violated the Constitution by “ignoring congressional spending limits” and diverting more than $6 billion to fund the Mexico border wall. The Trump administration claims it passed laws allowing the President to reallocate these funds, however, the Circuit Court notes that Congress has spending authority which cannot be “snatched” by the executive branch. The Department of Justice has yet to respond to this ruling.

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