USCIS Director: Federal Immigration Funds ‘Critical’ To Agency

She says the mainly fee-funded agency needs appropriations to tackle massive backlog — and ensure ‘long-term success’

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Jaddou put out a plea Wednesday to Congress for more funding to help the immigration agency tackle lengthy visa backlogs and processing times that have kept applicants in limbo for months or longer.

During a stakeholder briefing, Jaddou acknowledged mounting visa delays, which have caused individuals applying to receive and renew visas and work permits to wait months, some losing their jobs in the meantime.

“Let me be very clear. Our processing times are too long. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it,” said Jaddou, who was confirmed to her post in July.

She emphasized the issue “is critically important to me and my colleagues,” adding that everyone who applies for an immigration benefit with USCIS “​​is entitled to a timely decision, be it yes or no.”

While noting USCIS has improved its financial standing in recent years, Jaddou said the agency still needs “additional resources to decrease processing times and to tackle the unprecedented backlog and our ever growing humanitarian mission.”

Congress passed an emergency funding law in 2020 that allowed USCIS to collect higher fees for fast-tracked processing and offer the service on more types of applications, which the agency has yet to fully implement. Later that year, Congress gave the agency nearly $128 million in its fiscal 2021 spending bill.

Senate Democrats have proposed giving the agency $345 million in fiscal 2022, while House appropriators have proposed giving the agency roughly $474 million this fiscal year.

“I cannot stress this enough: Appropriations are critical to the long-term success of this agency,” Jaddou said. “USCIS must continue to receive appropriations to meet the increasing demand for many of our humanitarian benefits.”

By Suzanne Monyak for ROLL CALL
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