The backlog of immigration cases has reached an alarming high—high enough to steal the attention of Congress. Now more than 80 Democratic Congressmen and Congresswomen have united to ask the Government Accountability Office to find out why. Describing the extent of processing delays for immigration benefits and applications as being at “crisis levels,” the lawmakers say that the delays are hurting families as well as businesses that depend on more timely decisions in these cases.
And backlog it is. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, in its recent analysis, found that the number of pending immigration cases in the fall of 2018 exceeded 2.3 million. This includes all pending immigration case applications, from immigrant work visas to pending green cards. According to Congress, it can now take more than 2.5 years for a permanent resident who applies for citizenship to have their application processed.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) faces specific criticism from the 81 legislators who called on the federal watchdog to examine the backlog of cases. Lawmakers noted that USCIS is now adjudicating cases at a slower rate than it has in the past. Democratic lawmakers, advocates and immigration attorneys have all expressed concern that the current administration in Washington is intentionally stalling the process of granting citizenship and dealing with other immigration benefits. The effect, they say, is that a massive backlog of cases has formed.
Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas called the wait times for citizenship “outrageous.” Castro accuses the government of intentionally trying to “stop certain people from becoming citizens and staying in this country.” The present administration has been vying for approval to expand the wall on the southern border and bring change to the current system of immigration, including having a merit-based system for individuals that is dependent on possessing specific skill sets.
Congress is rightly concerned that this backlog is occurring despite the uptick in staffing and immigration officers. The current slowdown has not been this extreme, notes Congress, since the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks when new security measures were put into place under President George W. Bush.
A spokeswoman for USCIS, Jessica Collins, says that “many factors can affect processing times but that “waits are often due to higher application rates rather than slow processing.” Collins went on to say that the addition of more field offices and staff was meant to help keep up with the heightened demand for immigration services. “USCIS strives to adjudicate all applications, petitions, and requests as effectively and efficiently as possible in accordance with all applicable laws, policies, and regulations,” Collins said.
While Familia America Immigration cannot promise a fast track to citizenship, we are staunch advocates for immigrants coming into this country and offer full-service legal representation for our Utah clients. Our team of Salt Lake City immigration attorneys will fight hard to help you find a legal path to citizenship. Set up your no-cost case consultation with us now by clicking here or dialling 801-656-9605.