USCIS: Union pushes for funding, staff increases
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Jun 08, 2021
The largest union representing employees of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency is pressing for increases in funding and staffing across the organization.
The American Federation of Government Employees, which has consistently backed plans to improve staffing and other resources at USCIS, is enthusiastically endorsing the White House’s FY 2022 budget plans, which include significant hikes. These include plans to hire more than 1,200 new employees, as discussed in an AFGE release.
The proposed dollar increases are very significant. The plan calls for a nearly $342 million boost in CIS’s discretionary budget from last year’s—much of that to process a large backlog of naturalization and asylum cases. Some of the funds, if obtained, would be aimed at hiring 100 additional immigration judges and support staff.
USCIS—unlike most federal agencies—receives funding through user fees. The agency struggled through the pandemic, with rising workloads along with funding shortfalls, leading to planned furloughs of over 13,000 employees—some for as long as 90 days. Although those furloughs were cancelled, the union says “the damage to the workforce was done”—a sense of job security and career prospects especially marred, leading to a raft of employee departures.
“We still have some work to do to be financially secured, but we are in a much better place and continue to recover,” AFGE National CIS Council President Danielle Spooner said this week, almost a year after the furlough plan was scuttled. “I believe that President Biden’s budget will make a big difference in the mission of USCIS. The transparency alone will give the workforce a sense of being a part of the recovery.”
AFGE describes Spooner as “optimistic” about the WH budget proposal for USCIS, and prospects for getting the added resources the agency needs to fulfill its mission.