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Trump team plots mass closure of offices that help legal immigrants

The Trump administration will shutter all of its 21 international immigration offices.

By Emily Singer - March 12, 2019
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Donald Trump

The Trump administration continues its quest to make life harder for immigrants — even those who come to the U.S. legally.

The head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Tuesday that all 21 of its international immigration offices will soon shutter — which could make it more difficult for people to file citizenship petitions, process family visa applications, and navigate foreign adoptions, the Washington Post reports.

USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna painted the decision as a cost-savings measure, telling staff in an email that the closures of these offices will “maximize our agency’s finite resources,” according to the Post.

These foreign offices, however, serve a vital role for people living abroad. The Washington Post reports that employees at these offices help military families and spouses of deceased American citizens get legal documents, process backlogs in immigration petitions, and handle emergencies such as lost green cards.

At least some of those duties may be transferred to other offices, administration officials told the Post. But shuttering the immigration offices is likely to make it harder for people living overseas to migrate to the U.S. or deal with documentation issues.

This move comes after Trump declared a fake emergency in order to take billions of dollars in funding — which had already been appropriated for things like military housing construction and troop pay — and spend it on a needless border wall.

While Trump seems to think there’s plenty of money for a border wall that experts say won’t do anything to make the U.S. safer, his administration is now claiming it doesn’t have enough money to fund basic services for legal immigrants.

But it’s not a surprising move.

After all, Trump has spent his presidency vilifying immigrants and pushing for cuts to legal immigration.

With anti-immigrant aide Stephen Miller in his ear, Trump has instituted a draconian Muslim ban that prevents people from select countries from traveling to the United States.

He slashed the number of refugees the U.S. will allow into the country to the lowest level since 1980, and proposed severe cuts to legal immigration.

Trump has also tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which could put hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children by no fault of their own at risk of deportation.

And he’s separated families seeking legal asylum at the border, putting children at risk of physical and psychological harm — with at least two kids dying in U.S. custody.

With all that said, it’s not shocking Trump would try to make legal immigration even harder by closing USCIS offices.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. 


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