The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office is bracing to furlough nearly 70 percent of its workforce next month, a move that could grind the U.S. immigration system to a halt, if Congress doesn’t provide $1.2 billion in emergency funding, reports CBS News.
The federal agency is responsible for granting citizenship, providing immigration benefits and processing visa applications.
The furloughs would start August 3.
"If that happens, the agency would be left with a skeleton crew that will make it difficult to sustain our critical mission of administering our nation's lawful immigration system," Joseph Edlow, deputy director for policy at USCIS and the de facto head of the agency, told CBS News.
The USCIS has cited a 50 percent drop in immigration processing fees as the reason for its funding crunch, due in part to the coronavirus pandemic.
Congress is requesting additional information about the funding request.
Some agency employees and members of Congress cite President Donald Trump’s restrictive immigration policies as a reason for dried up revenue.
“This feels like the culmination of three and a half years of policy change and policy shifts, one after another in terms of restricting immigration,” Jason Marks, a steward for the American Federation of Government Employees Local 924, which represents some Citizenship and Immigration Services employees, told The New York Times.
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