Trump Administration Preparing to Close International Immigration Offices


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The Trump administration is preparing to shutter all 21 international offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a move that could slow the processing of family visa applications, foreign adoptions and citizenship petitions from members of the military.

USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna said in an email to staff Tuesday that he is working to transfer those duties — now performed by employees worldwide — to domestic offices and the State Department’s embassies and consulates. He wrote that if the State Department agrees, the agency would move to close its international field offices in coming months “in an effort to maximize our agency’s finite resources.”

“I believe by doing so, we will better leverage our funds to address backlogs in the United States while also leveraging existing Department of State resources at post,” he wrote. “Change can be difficult and can cause consternation. I want to assure you we will work to make this as smooth a transition as possible for each of our USCIS staff while also ensuring that those utilizing our services may continue to do so and our agency operations continue undisrupted.”

The shift will ripple to offices in New Delhi, Port-au-Prince, Rome and numerous other cities where the agency has offices that handle emergencies, smooth backlogs in immigration petitions, and provide direct information in foreign languages. USCIS foreign offices also investigate fraud.

Generally, the offices facilitate applications from potential immigrants to the United States; closing the offices would reassign about 70 USCIS staffers across the world who the agency’s website says provide “valuable information services” and solve a wide array of problems, from aiding someone who lost their green card to helping widows of American citizens and members of the military obtain legal documents.
The move comes as the Trump administration is pressing to tighten the nation’s immigration controls and shift from family reunification to merit-based immigration. Department of Homeland Security officials say it is part of an overall effort to streamline U.S. immigration operations.

A senior DHS official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a decision that has yet to be publicly announced said it was primarily a cost-saving measure that will hand off responsibilities to State Department and DHS personnel working abroad.

The USCIS International Operations Division, under the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate, has about 240 employees in the United States and in two dozen field offices in 21 countries, and is “charged with advancing the USCIS mission in the international arena,” according to materials on the agency’s website.

“Reuniting families, enabling adoptive children to come to join permanent families in the U.S., considering parole requests from individuals outside the U.S. for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit, and providing information services and travel documents to people around the world — all with unique needs and circumstances — are just a few of the responsibilities our officers assume on a daily basis,” USCIS says of its mission.

The agency also investigates fraud, aids asylees and refugees, and provides public information in local foreign languages.

More than half of the overseas USCIS staff members are foreign nationals, and the local contract employees who perform many of the applicant screenings are likely to continue doing so under State Department supervision, a DHS officials said.

Cissna said in his message to staff that he would consolidate regional, district, and field offices in the United States in coming weeks “to streamline management structures, balance resources, and improve our overall mission performance and service delivery.”

Maria Sacchetti covers immigration for the Washington Post, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the court system. She previously reported for the Boston Globe, where her work led to the release of several immigrants from jail. She lived for several years in Latin America and is fluent in Spanish.

Nick Miroff covers immigration enforcement, drug trafficking and the Department of Homeland Security on The Washington Post’s National Security desk. He was a Post foreign correspondent in Latin America from 2010 to 2017, and has been a staff writer since 2006.

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stefan tweets

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Geld sparen und effizienter?
Ich weiss nicht, aber wenn alle Aussenstellen zu gemacht werden dann werden die Zeiten kaum kürzer werden.

stefan tweets

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20. August 2020 ist das allgemeine Datum nach neuesten Medienberichten. Bis dahin werden nach und nach fast alle Büros geschlossen. Frankfurt fällt meines Wissens nach nicht unter eine Ausnahme.