Federal Employees News Digest

AFGE pushes for more funding, staff

The American Federation of Government Employees, representing employees of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, is pushing for greater funding and staffing across the organization. 

AFGE, which has consistently backed plans for more personnel and other resources at the backlogged immigration agency, is enthusiastically endorsing the White House’s FY 2022 budget plans. These include a proposal to hire more than 1,200 new employees, as discussed in an AFGE release.  

The proposed dollar increases are very significant—a nearly $342 million boost in CIS’s discretionary budget over last year’s, much of it aimed at helping process a large backlog of naturalization and asylum cases. Some of the funds, if obtained, would go toward hiring 100 additional immigration judges and support staff. 

USCIS—unlike most federal agencies—gets its funding through user fees. The agency has struggled through the pandemic, experiencing rising workloads along with funding shortfalls. Those shortfalls at one point led to a plan last August to furlough of over 13,000 employees—some for as long as 90 days. Although the 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.

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