August 28, Roundup

Looks like the USCIS furlough is off the table. USCIS will avert an administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees, scheduled to begin Aug. 30. This step is being taken because of, as USCIS explains, “unprecedented spending cuts and a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts.” USCIS also warned that these cuts “come through the descoping of federal contracts that assist USCIS adjudicators in processing and preparing case files as well as a myriad of other support activities. Anticipated operational impacts include increased wait times for pending case inquiries with the USCIS Contact Center, longer case processing times, and increased adjudication time for aliens adjusting status or naturalizing.” In other words, get ready to wait even longer!!

On 08/24/20, USCIS also confirmed that it will reject all initial DACA requests from individuals who have never previously received DACA and return all fees. The rejections will be without prejudice, meaning individuals will be able to reapply should USCIS begin accepting new requests in the future from individuals who never before received DACA. USCIS will continue to accept requests from individuals who had been granted DACA at any time in the past and will also accept requests for advance parole that are properly submitted.

If DACA is renewed, it will not be extended for more than one year. USCIS is not going to rescind any currently valid two-year grants of DACA or work permits already given. Permission to travel will be granted for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit in keeping with the current governing laws.

It looks like the Trump Administration is hard at work trying to speed up court cases. The latest is a proposal to change the flow of court cases going on appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The proposed changes shorten the times for briefs (from 90 days to 14 days); avoid sending cases back to the judge when the judge failed to provide the required warnings; limit the types of motions the BIA will consider, etc. The proposal will also limit the judges’ ability control their dockets.

The changes are clearly meant to tie the hands of immigrants, their advocates, and judges. The administration is clearly saying, “the harder you fight the less protection you get”. Reality is that facts and circumstances change while an individual is waiting for the appeal process. It is vital that the BIA and the Courts be able to evaluate these changes. The regulations are taking away even more power from the judges to efficiently administer and adjudicate cases.

Lastly, the Trump administration is appointing Tony Pham, whose family fled Saigon in 1975, to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As expected, this appointment sparked anger among Asian American advocates, many of whom condemned the move as hypocritical. To many, it is obvious that the appointment has political undertones. For many Asian immigrant advocates, the fact that Mr. Pham has already worked for ICE within this administration, and this administration has aggressively ramped up targeting of Southeast Asian refugee communities, does not crate optimism, there will be a change in how ICE is run.