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Furloughs of USCIS Private Contractors Will Trigger Delays, Backlogs Nationwide

September 10, 2020 (1 min read)

Daniel C. Vock, Kansas Reflector, Sept. 10, 2020

"Members of Congress from the Kansas City region scored a victory last month when a federal immigration agency backed off plans that would have led to thousands of layoffs of government employees in the metro area.

But their relief was short lived, as the agency now intends to furlough 800 of its local private contractors instead — a move expected to set off immigration backlogs and processing delays throughout the nation.

The Kansas City furloughs are the latest result of budget shortfalls at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which earlier this summer threatened to furlough two-thirds of all its workers across the country, raising the specter of a severely damaged immigration system and outraging lawmakers.

The news that Kansas City still could sustain an 800-job hit has produced fresh objections from bipartisan members of Congress from both Missouri and Kansas, who wrote the agency saying “the economic impact of such a reduction will be felt for years to come.”

But the job cuts also more broadly could further delay the ability of USCIS to process green cards, work authorizations and other immigration-related documents nationwide. 

Those backlogs, immigration advocates say, could slow any economic recovery, if companies in fields like technology and health care cannot hire the workers they need quickly."