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Stivers, Cárdenas Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Address Immigration Backlog

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Washington, February 26, 2020 | comments
“Forcing individuals and families to wait up to two years in limbo in not acceptable. Clearly, there is work that needs to be done to address the backlog that has ballooned to unacceptable levels in recent years,” Stivers said.
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WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) introduced the Case Backlog Transparency and Accountability Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation to understand the exponential backlog of cases under U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Between Fiscal Years (FY) 2014 and 2018, the average processing time for a case has increased by 91 percent, while the agency’s net backlog of delayed cases grew from approximately 544,000 to over 2.4 million.  The Case Backlog Transparency and Accountability Act would establish a quarterly USCIS report on the status of its backlog, strengthen its annual reporting requirements, establish a biennial Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, and promote transparency by ensuring all reports are publicized electronically on both USCIS and GAO websites.

“Forcing individuals and families to wait up to two years in limbo in not acceptable.  Clearly, there is work that needs to be done to address the backlog that has ballooned to unacceptable levels in recent years,” Stivers said.  “The first step to addressing any problem is to understand it, which is exactly what this bill does.  I’m grateful to Representative Cárdenas for partnering with me in this effort and taking this first crucial step.”

“Millions of people are awaiting a decision from USCIS, but the processing backlog is causing unprecedented delays,” said Cárdenas. “This is unfair to applicants and their families and bad for American businesses. This reporting system will create a new level of accountability for the agency and help determine the root causes of the processing delays.”

By establishing new USCIS and GAO reporting requirements, the Case Backlog Transparency and Accountability Act would enhance visibility into the status of, factors behind, and potential solutions for, the backlog. 

The Case Backlog Transparency and Accountability Act is supported by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and Niskanen Center.

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson said, “On behalf of our 15,000 members, who regularly represent families, vulnerable individuals, and U.S. businesses at USCIS and who witness daily the devastating consequences of processing delays on their clients, we commend Representatives Cárdenas and Stivers for putting aside partisan politics in order to hold USCIS accountable. This bill will demand that USCIS review and analyze the causes of the ever-growing immigration case backlog and ensure that solutions are in place to more efficiently serve its customers.”

“Representatives Stivers and Cárdenas deserve praise for their leadership in forging pragmatic, bipartisan solutions on the challenging issue of ensuring thorough review of applications and reliable processing at USCIS,” said Kristie De Peña, Niskanen’s Vice President for Policy. “This bill is a common-sense step to address the serious concerns over USCIS processing and ensure the timely adjudication of all petitions.” De Peña added, “USCIS should offer efficient, effective processing for all petitions. The agency should be committed to not just reversing these harmful processing delays, but ensure a ballooning backlog doesn’t happen again.”

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

 

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