Nicole Hallett Describes the Bureaucratic Dysfunction Immigrants Face in the US

'Dysfunctional' doesn't begin to describe our immigration bureaucracy

When people talk about our broken immigration system, they are most likely referring to the fact that millions of long-term residents have no path to legal immigration status, or the fact that Congress has not passed meaningful immigration reform in over 30 years. But our immigration system is broken in another way too. The immigration bureaucracy is a study in dysfunction that fails to work at the most basic level.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) gets a lot of criticism for how it is run, but a lesser-known agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), holds sway over many more people’s lives. USCIS is the part of the immigration system that processes applications for immigration benefits, including applications for lawful permanent residence, naturalization, work authorization, and visa extensions. While ICE deported approximately 185,000 people in fiscal year 2020, USCIS received 7.7 million applications.

Millions of people’s lives are in a holding pattern because they are waiting for decisions on applications filed with USCIS. They may be waiting a long time. For example, the wait time for a decision on an application to adjust status (i.e., a green card application) being processed at the USCIS Texas Service Center is currently 27 to 62.5 months. Applicants cannot inquire about the status of their applications unless they have been pending since May 24, 2016, a time when many thought Hillary Clinton would be the next president. These wait times do not even take into account the visa backlogs that leave applicants unable to even apply for years or, in some cases, decades.

Read more at The Hill