FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, July 24, 2020
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Trump Has Tried His Dirtiest Trick in the Book to Curtail Citizenship and Other Immigration Applications, Threatening Democracy by Disenfranchising Would-Be Citizens in the Run Up to 2020 Elections
WASHINGTON –The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a national coalition of 41 immigrant and refugee rights organizations, released the following statement in response to the finalizing of an order this Monday-the pre-published version was released today-that allows the Trump administration to increase application fees for citizenship, lawful permanent residency, asylum and other applications, and eliminate most fee waivers for applicants.
“Over the last few years, the Trump administration has tried every dirty trick in the book, and some unlawful ones too, to make citizenship and other immigration benefits impossible or impractical for immigrants to obtain. This is why USCIS is claiming it’s gone bankrupt. This is why there’s less applications, and this is why there are hundreds of thousands of applicants in the backlog and waiting to become a citizen, with a growing possibility that they will not be able to vote this November. The administration now wants to add the nail into the coffin of access to citizenship, as well as price out immigrants from asylum, permanent residency, and countless other immigration benefits, by moving forward with this unlawfully proposed regulation. There should not be a wealth test to access the American Dream and the ability of immigrants to progress and have opportunities in this country. We know exactly what the administration intends to do with this regulation. NPNA and its member organizations pledge to fight this in court, in Congress, and in our streets and communities so that our loved ones are not priced out and remain welcomed.”
The proposed rule will be finalized and published in the Federal Register on Monday, August 3, 2020 and will become effective on October 2, 2020. Once effective, countless application fees would rise, including:
- Citizenship rising from $640 to $1,170;
- Affirmative asylum applications would now cost $50;
- permanent residency and related applications would rise from $1,225 to $2,270;
- and employment authorization would rise from $410 to $550.
The rule would also eliminate most fee waivers, which allow for low-income immigrants to apply at a reduced or eliminated fee. The way in which the rule was proposed in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, and the manner in which USCIS leadership has not been confirmed by the Senate, in violation of the Appointments Clause of the Constitution and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, make a lawsuit against the administration likely.
NPNA, NPNA members, and close partners have been campaigning against the Trump administration’s “Second Wall” efforts to make citizenship less accessible, specifically for low-income and working class communities. They filed a 2018 Freedom of Information Act request related to the backlog of over 700,000 citizenship applications, political motivations behind it, and whether racial and ethnic groups are disproportionately impacted. When USCIS failed to respond, they filed a lawsuit in federal court. They have also worked to build Congressional and Mayoral support for expanding access and against the slow-walking of USCIS processing applications. They are currently working with Congressional offices to make sure that halting the regulation to increase fees, among other barriers to citizenship, are included as conditions to any Congressional funding to USCIS in the next COVID-19. legislation.