“Immigration has come nearly to a standstill over the past two months. The Trump administration has shuttered USCIS offices, closed consulates abroad, shut down the borders with Canada and Mexico and imposed a 60-day ban on the issuance of new green cards. Asylum processing at the southern border has also practically stopped, as Trump administrationofficials implemented a program to rapidly return migrants to Mexico without so much as a health exam.
While brought on by the pandemic, this kind of decrease in legal immigration is what Trump has long sought. He has railed against what he calls “chain migration,” referring to US citizens or permanent residents who sponsor their immigrant family members for visas and green cards. And he has sought to keep poor immigrants out by proposing to reject those who don’t have health insurance or who might use public benefits in the future. (Courts have blocked the restrictions on immigrants without health insurance from going into effect for now, but the policy affecting immigrants who might go on public benefits went into effect in February.)”
“Unlike other federal agencies, USCIS receives almost no taxpayer dollars, and is dependent on fees associated with filing applications for green cards, visas, work permits, US citizenship, and humanitarian benefits such as asylum. The pandemic has already brought on a “dramatic decrease” in its revenue that is only likely to worsen as applications are estimated to drop by about 61 percent through September, an agency spokesperson said. President Donald Trump’s restrictions on immigration, other countries’ restrictions on travel and the fact that necessary government offices aren’t open to process applications have all contributed to this decline.
To mitigate the budget shortfall, USCIS is planning to implement an additional 10 percent surcharge on all applications and sought Congress’s help on Friday, Buzzfeed’s Hamed Aleaziz first reported. The agency has also already limited spending to salary and mission-critical activities, but “without congressional intervention, USCIS will have to take drastic actions to keep the agency afloat,” the spokesperson said.”