, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS ) published in the Federal Register its proposal to increase fees for many of its services. Among the new fees is an 83 increase for the U.S. citizenship application, as well as a 532 increase for the Application for Suspension of Deportation. But what is behind this increase?

According to the proposal, and just to cite a few examples, the U.S. citizenship application fee would be 1,170 instead of the current rate of 640. Also, the fees associated with legal permanent residency would increase by 79, going from 1,220 to 2,195. Form I-881, Application for Suspension of Deportation or Cancellation of Expulsion, would cost 1,800 per person compared to the 285 it costs today.

This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimizes subsidies from an already over-extended system, said Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS.

Are the actual costs of immigration procedures really subsidized? The answer is no. What is actually happening is that USCIS is delayed with the processing of hundreds of thousands of immigration cases that it cannot handle because it does not have enough staff. It should be noted that this huge delay was basically triggered because the government itself created this problem.

Despite promises to reduce the delay, the latest case-by-case records show that the growth of the delay in immigration procedures has accelerated every year since President Donald Trump took office. At the beginning of this administration, 542,411 cases were pending in immigration courts. By , the number of active cases exceeded one million. This increases to 1.35 million when cases that have not yet been scheduled in the immigration court calendars are added.

Year after year, the rate of delayed cases increases. The rate of active pending cases grew by 16 from until the end of that fiscal year, then increased by an additional 22.1 during fiscal year . Last year, it increased by an additional 33.3. The cause? The government is seeking, at all costs, to deport as many immigrants as possible, so without justification it wants to eliminate programs such as DACA and TPS. This generated fear in the immigrant community, and consequently there has been an increase in the number of citizenship applications and other procedures that can protect immigrants from deportation.

USCIS and immigration courts can no longer handle so many immigration cases. Therefore, the government is trying to lighten its work by economically penalizing the poorest immigrants in order to reduce the number of procedures it has to process. The problem is that this solution is only a band-aid. It does not solve the underlying problem— the lack of comprehensive immigration reform. It also goes against the values on which this great nation was founded, a nation which is still known as the land of opportunities.

As of the publication in the Federal Register regarding these fee increase proposals, there is a 30-day period to receive public comments. You can express your opinion by visiting here.

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? dbarahona@lanoticia.com

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