A recent Washington Post op-ed accurately details a new practice by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that appears to be another front in the administration’s efforts to stymie legal immigration.
In the past year, USCIS has begun rejecting applications that include any fields not filled out, even if the omission is because the requested information doesn’t exist. This is a dramatic break with decades of practice, where, for example, if a person had no children, s/he could simply leave the fields requesting children’s names and dates of birth blank. Without warning, USCIS began rejecting applications unless every field was filled out with “N/A” or “none”.
This new practice began with applications filed by some of the most vulnerable individuals, including asylum applicants and domestic violence and crime victims, the majority of whom don’t have attorneys to help them complete their applications. The op-ed provides a window into the world of USCIS that increasingly feels as coherent as that encountered in Alice in Wonderland.
As it weighs USCIS’s request for $1.2 billion due to budget shortfalls, Congress should insist on transparency and changes within the agency to increase efficiency in its processing of applications. Practices such as the “no blanks” policy should be eliminated immediately.