Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) November 4, 2019 – The immigration system has been in turmoil, and the number of delays in processing forms, visas and appeals are multiplying. The delays are occurring in spite of immigration attorneys working hard to provide all requested and required forms and updated materials.
The most troubling indication of ever-increasing delays and stonewalling within the immigration system comes in the form of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) markedly distancing themselves from working with immigration attorneys. The USCIS no longer makes the effort to talk to the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA). “USCIS has also changed its InfoPass system cutting off the public and not allowing them to ask questions,” added Huston business immigration attorney, Annie Banerjee. “None of these actions bode well for immigrants.”
A further troubling indicator of the increasing turmoil in the immigration system is that USCIS is arbitrarily issuing denials without any apparent level of uniformity or accountability. Each officer is left to their own devices to deny whatever cases they wish. With all the systemic upheaval, immigrants are facing needless hardships wrought by what is supposed to be a non-partisan agency, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). “The job of the AAO is to review cases with fresh eyes, not rubber stamp USCIS decisions. However, for the last two and a half years, AAO has been rubber-stamping USCIS decisions 100 percent of the time,” added Banerjee.
There are two possible remedies to deal with the delays and denials and one is to take cases to federal courts. By issuing a writ of mandamus to USCIS it may force them to act to perform mandatory or purely ministerial duties correctly. The second possible remedy is to appeal all USCIS arbitrary decisions to federal courts. This would likely need to be filed in Washington D.C. because USCIS is located there.
One of the major reasons for the delay in processing paperwork was allegedly the number of petitions filed. However, when USCIS filed their yearly report, there was a 13 percent decrease in the number of applications filed but processing times shot up by 8 percent.
The AILA spoke to the bi-partisan Congressional Immigration Committee in July 2019 about the issue, with AILA’s Director of Government Relations, Sharvari Dalal-Dheini noting that: “It is not hyperbole to say that the consequences of these delays are dire . . . AILA’s over 15,000 members have been urging USCIS to address these delays for years, only to see them worsen . . . Congress should also pass legislation to ensure greater transparency and accountability within USCIS going forward.”
Recently, the USCIS Associate Director for Service Center Operations Donald Neufeld said, when asked about the astonishing processing delays, “I can tell you that a number of changes have been made affecting H-1B processing over the last couple of years.” In other words, Neufeld admitted the delays were a result of his administration.
“It’s difficult to predict if anything is going to change under this Administration. Not only is the system slow but the attorneys struggling to work within the broken system are slow to respond to clients. As immigration attorneys, we are doing what we can,” said Banerjee.
Law Offices of Annie Banerjee
131 Brooks Street, Suite #300
Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Phone: (281) 242-9139
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