In The News

Lincoln Journal Star: Fortenberry Secures Furlough Relief for USCIS Workers

Jul 28, 2020
In The News

Hundreds of local federal immigration workers have gotten a temporary reprieve from impending furloughs, according to Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.

In a Friday afternoon tweet, the congressman said that planned furloughs of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service employees, which were scheduled to start the first week of August, have been delayed at least until the end of the month.

“Good news: We have secured a delay in the furlough order for USCIS until the end of August," Fortenberry said. "This gives Congress time to fully fix the problem, and I hope temporarily relives the anxiety this problem has caused for the good people at USCIS, many of whom I have spoken to directly about this issue. USCIS provides an essential mission for our nation. The loyal employees need to know their jobs are secure as they help preserve the integrity of the United States immigration system.”

A USCIS spokeswoman confirmed the delay.

“Recent assurances from Congress, and an uptick in application and petition receipts, have allowed USCIS senior leadership the flexibility to responsibly delay the start date of the administrative furlough of approximately 13,400 USCIS employees until Aug. 30," spokeswoman Jessica Collins said in a statement. "This delay is intended to allow Congress enough time to act and provide USCIS with the funding needed in order to avert the administrative furlough altogether. USCIS’ funding request of $1.2 billion remains unchanged and the agency is depending on Congress to provide emergency funding to ensure agency operations continue uninterrupted.”

Joseph Edlow, the USCIS deputy director for policy said in June the agency, which is mostly funded by the fees immigration applicants pay, was facing a "crippling budget shortfall" because of a drop in applications due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Edlow said at the time that the agency would likely need to furlough more than 13,000 staff members if it did not get emergency funding from the government by Aug. 3.

That likely would have meant hundreds of temporary layoffs in Lincoln, where more than 1,000 employees and contractors work out of two sites — 850 S St. and 1301 W. Highland Blvd. — processing applications for green cards, employment verification, immigration status adjustments and travel documents.