On July 24, 2019, Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy, announced the postponement of furloughs for an estimated 13,000 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) workers until September 1, 2020. Earlier this month, USCIS announced the possibility of furloughs beginning August 3 because of a lack of funding for continued operations. The announcement comes as congressional leaders provided a more accurate accounting of the agency’s resources which demonstrated sufficient funding through the current fiscal year (September 30, 2020). Of the announcement, Senator Leahy stated, “Furloughing thousands of public servants in the middle of a pandemic and at record unemployment would have upended the lives of the dedicated women and men working at USCIS and impacted thousands who rely on their services, and after new revenue estimates showed the agency ending the fiscal year with a surplus it was completely unjustifiable. I’m glad the agency decided to change course for now, but I remain troubled the Trump Administration was pushing for these furloughs in the first place. As Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am working to ensure these dedicated women and men stay on the job to help those chasing the American Dream. With regard to the projected USCIS deficit for fiscal year 2021, I am committed to addressing this issue in the next coronavirus supplemental so that USCIS can continue accomplishing its missions without a furlough.”
While this announcement provides a heightened level of assurance with regard to USCIS’ ability to continue normal operations in the short-term, the agency’s long-term ability to sustain itself will likely be a topic of discussion as the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship conducts a USCIS oversight hearing on Wednesday, July 29, at 10:00 am (ET).
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