We did it!
Our collective voice has been heard at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and on Capitol Hill. The agency announced Aug. 25 it will no longer furlough 13,400 USCIS employees at the end of this month as planned.
The furlough cancellation – announced in an email to employees from USCIS leadership – came after intense pressure from AFGE members as well as members of Congress. The agency said it was able to cancel the unpaid furloughs as a result of new efficiencies and additional fee revenue.
“This is a major win for the hardworking and essential employees at USCIS. Their work is critical to our democracy, and furloughing these workers would have made it impossible for them to do their jobs on behalf of the country,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said.
“Since these furloughs were announced, we have worked around the clock to stop them for the sake of our members and our legal immigration system,” said Danielle Spooner, President of AFGE CIS Council 119, which represents USCIS employees. “It took a village to secure this victory. This was never just about saving jobs; we avoided major blows to our economy, our military, and the sanctity of the immigration processes our country was founded upon. Those are things all Americans can agree on.”
How we did it
After the agency first proposed the furloughs in May, AFGE held numerous congressional meetings on behalf of the 14,500 USCIS employees it represents and hosted a virtual press conference that resulted in numerous articles featuring AFGE leadership and members discussing the negative impact furloughs would have on the United States.
AFGE also launched a national #SAVEUSCIS campaign, which generated more than 55,000 messages to members of Congress from AFGE members, union allies, and concerned citizens.
Earlier this month, AFGE CIS Council 119 launched TV and digital ads in the nation’s capital and in key impacted and swing states across the country. The campaign, called Americans Agree, was created to draw attention to these furloughs and what they would mean to the American economy and immigration system.
We need to prevent future furlough threats
Even though we escaped the furloughs and its effects on the economy, agency’s mission, and employees, we need a permanent funding fix to address the issues behind the funding shortfall so that we are not facing furloughs again in the future.
“We are grateful to members of Congress for their bipartisan support of these workers and their mission,” Kelley said. “While the immediate threat of furloughs has passed, we still need Congress to act to prevent similar funding challenges and ensure that the agency is able to operate without further threats to workers and their jobs.”
“We are calling for long-term financial solutions from Congress in order to sustain the agency and increase the efficiency of pending cases and naturalization ceremonies,” said AFGE CIS Council 119 Executive Vice President Ken Palinkas. “We will turn our attention to a long-term victory for the sake of our members and the critical work they do every day to keep our legal immigration system running smoothly.”