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While so many in the media spent Friday hyperventilating over President Donald Trump’s tweets, his administration spent it stealthily modifying America’s immigration policies in a move that’ll raise revenue while also possibly reducing immigration.
In a rule finalization published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a subset of the Department of Homeland Security, the administration announced a spike in fees for nearly all immigration services, including naturalization and asylum.
Whereas filing for naturalization used to cost either $320 or $640, depending on the filer’s income level, it’ll now cost $1,160 regardless of income level. And whereas applying for asylum used to cost nothing, it’ll now cost $50.00.
According to Fox News, however, the new asylum fee will only apply “to claims that are made from within the U.S., and therefore would not apply to people arriving across the U.S.-Mexico border or other ports of entry.”
View the rule finalization below:
In a statement, USCIS deputy director for policy Joseph Edlow attributed the new fees to a need to essentially balance the agency’s ailing budget.
“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” he reportedly said.
“These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”
The filing above notes how incoming revenue has dropped precipitously as immigration services have slowed to a crawl amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“USCIS has seen a dramatic decline in applications and petitions during the COVID-19 pandemic which has also resulted in an unprecedented decline in revenue,” the filing reads. “DHS has no comparable historical data that can be used to project the scope, duration, and total effect this will have on USCIS’ revenue.”
In other words, the agency’s revenue has been dropping, and it has no idea when its revenue will return to normal. Therefore, to keep itself operational, it must raise fees.
“The additional revenue provided by this rule addresses the difference between the costs of USCIS operations and USCIS revenue for the biennial period as projected at the time of the USCIS fee review,” the filing explains.
The irony is that the rule could wind up further reducing immigration levels by making it harder for aspiring immigrants and asylum seekers to file a claim. While this would please those conservatives like Michelle Malkin who believe immigration should be lowered, particularly amid the current crisis, it’s provoked anger from the left.
Or rather those in the left who’re even aware of what’s happening. As of Saturday afternoon, news of the immigration fees hike still hadn’t gone viral.
See the limited backlash below, and take note of the false accusations:
The Trump Administration’s xenophobic policies continue to target those in greatest need with the least financial means.
— Nita Lowey (@NitaLowey) August 1, 2020
Instituting increased fees for immigration and work visa applications, along with what would be America’s first-ever fee for asylees escaping war, persecution, and natural disasters will cause irreparable harm.
— Nita Lowey (@NitaLowey) August 1, 2020
🚨USCIS is set to increase the price of various immigration application fees. Within these changes, they will now charge $50 for each asylum application. People seeking refuge already face financial hardships, this will only exacerbate an already inhumane process.
— United We Dream (@UNITEDWEDREAM) July 31, 2020
Trump does not believe in this country or its Constitution or anything decent.
His “oath” was a joke to him.
— Waterdancer411 (@jhb430) August 1, 2020
Sadistic as Nazis.
— grannynanny 🆘 (@grannynannynews) August 1, 2020
Trump is a demon from hell who was sent to Earth to hurt God’s children.
He spends all his time doing things to hurt groups of human beings. He is evil and people cannot wait for him to return to hell.
— Xbox 🎮🎱♟️🏓 (@miniclip8pool) August 1, 2020
It’s like they didn’t even read the actual filing and haven’t been paying attention to the news. According to reports, the budget shortfall at USCIS is so severe that the agency has been begging Congress to intervene and provide it with emergency funding, lest it be forced to furlough thousands of employees.
“The US agency that oversees and administers key facets of the immigration system, including the processing of citizenship, green cards, and asylum applications, has taken its first steps to dramatically roll back its capabilities by issuing furlough notices to more than 13,000 employees,” BuzzFeed News reported late last month.
“If Congress does not provide US Citizenship and Immigration Services with emergency funding before Aug. 3, the employees, who make up more than 60% of all staffers, will be furloughed for up to three months due to the budget crisis. USCIS is a fee-funded agency that receives most of its money through applications for immigration benefits.”
As of Aug. 1st, Congress had yet to approve any such funding, though the agency had extended the furlough deadline by a month, and discussions on funding had begun.
However, according to Government Executive, Democrats are now seeking to condition the funding on demands that the agency “go through a full audit before receiving funds, in addition to creating new reporting and accountability requirements, new revenue streams, prohibitions on transferring employees to enforcement agency duties and more discretion for employees to hasten the adjudication process.”
Government Executive’s report on the Democrats’ demands dropped on Wednesday, two days before USCIS decided to go ahead and spike immigration fees.
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