In a victory for AFGE and our members, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it would postpone the planned furloughs of 13,4000 employees from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31. Even though the delay is a step in the right direction, it does not erase the need for a permanent funding solution.
The furlough delay – announced in an email to employees from USCIS leadership – was prompted by an improvement in the agency’s financial situation, which it has attributed in part to the loss of revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic. The start date of the furloughs will now begin Aug. 31, barring congressional action.
“While this delay is a step in the right direction, more must be done to protect the jobs of these essential employees,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said. “We hope this delay will allow time for Congress to pass emergency funding legislation to prevent these furloughs from ever taking place. Congress and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration must address this issue once and for all so we do not find ourselves in this position again.”
AFGE has been calling on Congress to provide $1.2 billion in emergency supplemental funding to the agency to keep employees on the job. Being furloughed during a global health crisis would be detrimental to workers and their ability to care for their families.
AFGE members across the federation made more than 23,000 contacts with Congress by phone and emailed letters. Our Legislative Department has been leading our concerted effort to make sure members of Congress are aware of the situation and do everything they can to stop the furloughs. The USCIS Council and AFGE national vice presidents have been working with key legislators on the issue. AFGE also held a press conference to raise awareness and keep the public informed.
AFGE represents about 14,500 employees at USCIS.