Forget the border wall; a virtual wall exists due to immigration procedures

Those who in one way or another had to navigate the immigration system before 2016 should be grateful for its agility and efficiency. At that time, responses to the most common proceedings addressed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) took from three to six months, depending on the case.

Unfortunately, things changed for the worse, and the average time of general processing of immigration cases increased by 46 since Donald Trump arrived at the White House. What is the reason for this?

A report from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) states that during the year 2018, 94 of cases (petitions for family reunification, work visas, citizenship by naturalization, travel documents, employment authorization, green cards, and visas for victims of human trafficking) were processed more slowly than four years before.

The most serious obstacle is the implementation of a series of measures that do not expedite any procedure or benefit anyone. However, they intentionally slow down processes as an attempt to stop legal immigration. Let’s briefly look at some examples.

In 2017, a new policy began requiring USCIS officials to review decisions of past cases, adding unnecessary work for these officials. Another example is the implementation of a new in-person interview requirement for applications for employment based green cards, whereas before it was done virtually.

On , USCIS issued a new policy that makes it harder to take the citizenship test in a language other than English. Who benefits from this? In February, President Trump declared a national emergency to build a wall on the southern border, but he did not mention anything about the modernization of USCIS.

In March, the White House announced that it will close all 23 international USCIS offices, an initiative that could delay the granting of visas and processing of citizenship. All this nonsense bureaucracy has delayed the processing of millions of cases.

According to AILA, in 2018 the agency had a net backlog that exceeded 2.3 million cases from 2017. This backlog is more than double the previous year, even though there was only a 4 increase in the number of new cases received during that period.
In fiscal year 2017, the response to a USCIS procedure took an average of 7.98 months; in fiscal year 2018, the waiting time was 9.5 months.

Given the concern of millions of immigrants who are anxiously waiting to get an answer to their proceedings in the mail, AILA recommends some actions you can take if you feel that your immigration case has taken too long.

Ask the lawyer who is handling your immigration case about realistic expectations for the processing of your case. Also ask for options that will help you plan what to do regarding your legal situation if your case is delayed. Remember to inform your lawyer every time you have a change of phone number or address.

Additionally, you can ask a friend who is a U.S. citizen to write to his or her representative in Congress and pressure USCIS to take responsibility for these delays. This can be done automatically by going to AILA’s website. Once there, go to the section Tell Congress to Hold USCIS Accountable.

Diego Barahona A.

Periodista, editor, asesor, y presentador. De 2016 a 2019 el periodista más galardonado en Estados Unidos por los Premios José Martí. Autor del best seller: ¿Cómo leer a las personas?

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