January 31, 2019 / Modified jan 31, 2019 2:33 p.m.

Report: Processing Delays Reach Crisis Levels At Immigration Agency

A coalition of immigration lawyers says longer waits are often due to a large wave of applications.

Naturalization hero Soon-to-be U.S. citizens taking an oath at a naturalization ceremony at the Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse in Tucson, February 2018. (PHOTO: Nick O'Gara, AZPM)

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A coalition of immigration lawyers says processing delays have reached crisis levels at the federal agency that handles applications for things like visas, green cards and citizenship.

The agency says longer waits are often due to a large wave of applications.

In a new report, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) based its conclusion of a crisis at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on analysis of the agency’s own data.

AILA Policy Counsel Jason Boyd wrote the report and spoke during a press call. He said the long delays hurt families, vulnerable people and businesses. Boyd wants federal officials to retract recent policy changes, raise transparency, and have Congress do more oversight.

“This is more than a problem,” he said. “It’s a systemic failure.”

Citizenship and Immigration Services processes nearly 100 different kinds of applications and forms.

An agency spokesman, Michael Bars, emailed a statement responding to the report:

"The truth is that while many factors relating to an individual’s case can affect processing times, waits are often due to higher application rates rather than slow processing. That is why USCIS has implemented a range of process and operational reforms, hired additional staff, and expanded its facilities to ensure its ability to adjudicate keeps pace with unprecedented demand for its services over recent years. Where possible, cases are completed well within the agency’s standard processing goals. USCIS strives to adjudicate all applications, petitions, and requests as effetely [sic] and efficiently as possible in accordance with all applicable laws policies, and regulations."


EDITOR'S NOTE: The notation [sic] indicates the misspelling of "effectively" in the original document.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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