More than 13,000 employees at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have received their furlough notices, but they have not given up on saving their jobs and their agency.
Unlike most federal agencies, USCIS is funded by user fees. Due to a funding shortfall partially attributed to the coronavirus outbreak, the agency will have to furlough 75% of its workforce starting Aug. 3 if Congress doesn’t provide emergency funding.
“While we have been working expeditiously to finalize the 2019/2020 fee rule to help recover our operational costs, even with higher fees, once implemented, USCIS will still face funding challenges as long as application and petition receipts continue at current levels,” the notice reads. “To address our fiscal situation during these uncertain times, we also have taken measures to tighten our budget across the board while upholding our mission. Unfortunately, the measures we have taken are not enough at this time.”
According to furlough notices, employees will be furloughed for anywhere between 30 to 90 days.
“At this time, we do not reasonably anticipate the need for a furlough of 90 days or more. However, should additional furlough days be necessary, you will be issued another notice,” the notice continues.
AFGE and our CIS Council have intensified our efforts to call on lawmakers to provide the $1.2 billion in emergency funding USCIS needs to avoid furloughing workers.
We’re asking our members to repeatedly call and email their representatives before the August recess. We’re also asking members to reach out to their governors as well because this will impact every state.
“As employees of USCIS, we have done nothing to create the financial ruin USCIS now finds itself in,” said AFGE Council 119 President Danielle Spooner. “Yet we are the ones being punished for things that have been far beyond our control. The vicious attack on our Asylum program, the travel ban, and the complete and total disregard for the hard-working people that make up USCIS is shameful.”
Spooner added that the council could no longer get financial reports from the agency, which has also drastically cut official time, the hours USCIS employees who are union reps could use to help make their agency a better workplace.