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tv   House Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Immigration Policy and Processing...  CSPAN  July 31, 2019 7:12am-8:50am EDT

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michael gillday to be chief of naval operations followed by hearing on train safety with the head of the federal railroad administration. next a look at changes to immigration policy and processing delays, us citizenship and immigration services. witnesses testify on the backlog, efforts to address it in the need for additional resources and staffing. this is 2 hours and 15 minutes. >> here today, the subcommittee on immigration, citizenship is in order and we are here today to explore an aspect of our immigration system that generally receives far less attention than ice community raids, migration to central america, and all these are serious issues, the
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subcommittee will examine the current situation at us cis must not be overlooked, record high case backlogs, policy changes make it harder to obtain extremely important matters that deserve careful attention. these problems have a direct impact on countless individuals, families, students, business and other entities such as hospitals and research institutions. i'm sure others on the subcommittee will agree, constituents on an almost daily basis. all the us cis has struggled with backlogs since its creation the agency reports, and 2.4 million cases, this represents 344 increase on the
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backlog of cases. the largest net backlog since 2003, grounding to a halt in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. backlogs and processing delays create real-life problems for people trying to navigate complex immigration systems. imagine a domestic violence survivor unable to escape abusers because there is language. startup company abandoning a key project that will lead to substantial job creation because it is unable to get a visa for a specialty engineer. families remain separated months longer than necessary because of delays associated with enhanced settings. this hearing will provide an opportunity to dig deeper into these stories and examine how us cis processing delays impact every day people. we will explore with our first panel of witnesses what is causing these delays and how us cis plans to bring these back
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to reasonable levels. they are attributed to backlogs to increase filing, staffing issues and shortages and other operational factors clearly another driver. the current administration, substantially changing the way immigration benefit will be adjudicated. since donald trump's inauguration the administration has eradicated a number of common sense policies that have helped streamline processing in favor of new policies that add bureaucratic red tape and diver resources by adding new burdens on adjudicators. based on us cis published data it seems these new policies increase the odds of receiving a denial and when denials are peeled or overturned, it means more delay and more red tape but without good reason.
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processing delays and policy changes are making it more difficult than ever for qualified applicants to get immigration status. this difficulty keeps many individuals from being fully productive members of society and our economy that they would otherwise be. others may be reluctant to do things that benefit our country out of fear of interacting with the administration. i look forward to today's testimony so we can better understand the intent of recent policy changes as well as their impact on immigration backlogs. my hope is with today's hearing, we not only hear about how these are addressed with appropriate administrative solutions but also determine whether legislative fixes are necessary. i returned to the ranking member for his opening statement. >> i appreciate the chair holding this hearing. the subcommittee has an important oversight
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responsibility and adjudication wait times fall squarely on the kinds of issues we should watch. the same concerns and outrage from colleagues when president obama's dac a program resulted in long adjudication wait times for immediate relative applications among other immigration benefits. there is increasing adjudication times, february 8, 2014, article by julia preston, seeking green cards for foreign spouses.
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required us cis to process in any given year us cis administers a broad range of programs through which it receives millions of immigration benefit applications and petitions. in fiscal year 2018 alone, 8 million aggression benefits were requested and that was a decrease from the 9 million requested in fiscal year 2017. despite the huge volume of receipts the last few years us cis naturalized 757,000 new us citizens during fiscal year 2018. more than any of the previous 5 years. fiscal year 2018 also saw us cis adjudicate more immigration benefits than ever in its history.
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and immigration benefits to be probably adjudicated. everyone would agree with that. it was important us the arias abide by its mission, to adjudicate requested benefits. it is also important the agency adhere to the rest of its mission to administer, safeguarding its integrity and promise, by protecting american securing the homeland and honoring our values. immigration benefits should not be delayed for the various purposes nor should they understand as we have seen during other administrations. as we have seen many factors contribute to the volume of benefit requests and the time it takes to adjudicate them, what factors increase volume? presidential elections have led to increases in naturalization applications, those who want to vote apply for naturalization for the election and
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administered of action can increase the volume too. as i noted the dac a debate as added $2.4 million in adjudications to us cis's workload. of course even congress can add to the volume when we create a new immigration benefit or push the increased numbers in a given category that adds to us cis's workload. us cis was inherently behind the curve giving its staffing ability is dictated by agency funding and funding is dependent on less than fixable rules. there is no doubt us cis should remain a fee funded agency, us taxpayers should not bear the burden of paying for immigration benefits for born nationals but i look forward to hearing from you today. any ideas the agency has for insuring the fee rule and other procedures that allow for its ability to increase and decrease staff with the rise and fall. of volume. with recent policy changes that us cis about with the majority of witnesses are raising concerns, assuring the
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integrity of the immigration system is paramount but it should be balanced with reasonable policies and procedures. recently us cis instituted a sensible change in policy to end the process of filing an application containing little if any evidence of eligibility. to reserve a place and adjudication line. this imposes additional burden on us cis and adds to the backlogs. it is also important adjudicators have the ability to issue notices to appear to protect national security and prevent abroad. i look forward to the witnesses testimony to get a true understanding of these adjudication backlog and the factors contributing to it. i think the chair and yield back. >> i recognize the chairman of the full committee for his opening statement. >> today's hearing examines policy changes and processing delays to us citizenship and immigration services, us cis. it is important to remember the
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immigration debate in this country does not start and stop at the southern border although the trump administration focuses most of its attention on the rights of asylum-seekers and threatening sweeps, the legal immigration system does not view dramatic policy changes as well. changes that significantly diminish the ability of individuals to remain in the united states easily. most policy changes that have been implement by the administration, with more complicated -- and more time-consuming and more difficult for individuals to obtain legal status. these policy changes seem to fix things that were not broken to begin with and only serve to create unnecessary obstacles to legal immigration. last august, imposing harsh penalties on nonimmigrant students who violate their status. even if the violation was not intentional, based on a
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technical error, thankfully the court stepped in to hold. another example of us cis's determination that any justification of its long-standing policy of the interview requirements for employment-based green card applicants. most of these individuals have been in the united states for years, screened and vetted repeatedly. accepting cases that were further suspected or some other issue was a smart way to make the process efficient. now interviews are mandatory for everyone and backlogs are growing exponentially. let us not forget the public charge rule which would dramatically heighten the standard of determining if a person is likely to be reliant on public service and therefore ineligible for a visa green card. basic services like medicaid, snap and section 8 rental housing assistance that millions of working americans used to supplement their income
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suddenly render someone ineligible but the rule does not apply yet but it will be finalized soon. setting aside the fact that it is clearly unlawful and morally repugnant, there is no doubt this makes adjudication infinitely more complex. as predictions, whether working people with working permits need at some point to avail themselves of medicaid or snap or section 8 rental housing assistance now become necessary for these determinations on a predictive basis. the past few years we've seen significant increases in processing delays and backlogs, the backlog to citizenship applications nearly doubled,
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360,000, from 367,000 in late 2015, to 740,000 in september 2018. in my district most applicants to citizenship must wait a year for their application to be processed sometimes even two years. us cis said increased receipts, staffing issues, research shortages and other operational factors have led to the current backlog of 2.4 cases. as of the end of fiscal year 2018 processing times for most applications equaled or exceeded record long averages but it does not stop with processing delays was the immigration benefit requests such as citizenship, permanent residence and workgroup permits are on the rise. new policies, longer delays and increasing denials only added to the path of fear, confusion and uncertainty that permeates immigrant communities. i look forward hearing from our
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us cis witnesses how to bring processing time back to reasonable levels and from nongovernment witnesses about how us cis policy change and case delays impact individuals and businesses alike. i think the chairman for leadership on this issue and holding the support hearing. i yield back the balance of my time. >> the gentleman yields back in the ranking member of the full committee will be invited to submit his statement for the record unless he is able to attend which he has another obligation. now we will introduce the first panel. there will be two panels of witnesses for today's hearing. the first panel includes three witnesses for us citizenship and immigration services, this panel will be followed by a panel of witnesses from nongovernmental organizations. i will now introduce the first panel of witnesses. donald neufeld is associate director of the center of
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operations of us cis where he oversees opportunities for the first 5 processing centers of the country that adjudicate immigration benefit requests. he has worked for two decades that us cis and former immigration nationality service holding various leadership positions throughout the years. donald neufeld has testified before this, once before in 2011 for hearing on h1 be visas and we walk in him back to the subcommittee today, looking forward to his testimony. michael valverde is associate director of us cis field operations which opens the operations of the national benefit center on the domestic field offices which primarily handle applications that require in person interviews like green card and naturalization applications. he has two decades of experience with us cis, served as performance management and planning chief for the us cis
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refugee asylum and international operations director and deputy chief of us cis's division. we thank him for taking time to share his expertise with us today. finally, michael hoefer is chief of the office of performance quality at us cis, the office provides data and operational analysis to various governmental agencies into congress to oversee the efficiency of us cis operations. michael hoefer previously served as director of the office of immigration statistics and it was in that capacity he appeared before this subcommittee in 2007 to testify on the topic of comprehensive immigration reform. we welcome him back to the committee and look forward to his testimony. at this point i would ask you all to rise, raise your right hand and we will swear you win.
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do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony you are about to give is true and correct to the best of your knowledge and information and believe so help you god? thank you, let it be shown all the witnesses replied in the affirmative. please be seated and we will note that each of your statements will be made part of the official record. we ask your testimony be about 5 minutes. when you have one minute left the yellow light will go on and it is red when you are 5 minutes. we begin with donald neufeld. >> distinguished members of the subcommittee, i thank you for the opportunity to discuss our agency, us cis. >> will you pull the microphone a little closer? >> can you hear me? >> much better. >> thank you for this opportunity to discuss our agency, us citizenship and immigration services and the challenges we face in administering the legal immigration system.
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i am donald neufeld, the operations director. i've served in this capacity since 2010. my career with us cis and the immigration and naturalization service before that dates back to 1983. dates back to 1983. service ctr. operations employs 7300 employees and contractors at 5 service centers across the country and that headquarters. to give you an idea of the volume of our work, in fiscal year 2018 service ctr. operations process to proximally 5.5 million applications and petitions that figure represent 66% of the total us cis adjudication output. our work generally focuses on applications and petitions that do not require face-to-face interviews. these include employment-based and family-based petitions, application for employment authorization, applications and
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petitions for humanitarian benefits and applications for advanced parole and travel permits. service center operation seeks to maximize process efficiency and use technology to provide timely and high quality services for applicants and petitioners all without sacrificing the integrity or security of our nation's immigration system. we strive to maintain reasonable processing time that establish goals to measure our success. we are aware of the consequences for applicants and petitioners when we are unable to meet expectations with your staff informs us when we are missing our processing time goals and share individual stories of how delays affect businesses and individuals. as we have detailed in a written testimony there are a number of factors that drive backlogs. the center operations despite receiving one major factor, what other factors include statutory changes, unanticipated or regular workload demands, workloads related to new immigration programs or humanitarian crises, application spikes related to fee increases and staffing shortages. specific events that contributed to the current backlog include the spike in receipts prior to the 2016 role, the addition of temporary
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protected status and growth and petitions for victims of the qualifying collectivities. we should note, we generally expect increased advance of the presidential election. following the 2016 increase, the presidential election, the anticipated decrease did not follow. we do our best to anticipate short and long-term demands, we cannot predict everything that will affect our workload. even when history tells us something will happen it doesn't always play out the way we think. our current backlogs are the product of a sustained demand for immigration benefits coupled with staffing shortages. the good news is we believe the demand has for the time being stabilized. as we continue to bring new staff on board we will be able to better manage and reduce the backlog. service center operations, we can adjust workloads between service centers when excess work exists in one service entrance capacity and expertise
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exist that another service center. in the future as we realize the efficiencies of processing we will be able to do this in a paperless environment saving time and money. we are also identifying administrative processes from adjudicators desk to administrative or contract staff. we are committed to reducing processing times and offering superior quality services while administering the nation's legal immigration system officially, securely and fairly. thank you once again for your interest in our agency and mission. i look forward to any questions you might have. >> thank you very much. michael valverde, we will be pleased to hear from you. >> ranking member and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss the workload challenges we face at us cis. my name is michael valverde and i'm deputy associate director for field operations at us cis.
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i've served in this capacity since 2015. my career with us cis and the immigration and naturalization service before that dates back to 1997. i'm proud to represent 7000 field operation employees across the nation who each day come to one of our field offices, 24 district offices, four regional offices, the national benefit center and the immigrant investor program office with the single the purpose of administering the nation's legal immigration program fairly, efficiently and with the most integrity. the field operations workload largely consists of the adjudication of non-asylum applications and petitions that require face-to-face interviews and other on the ground work. most significantly adjustment of status and naturalization casework -- in fiscal year 2018 us cis naturalized 757 new citizens at a 5-year high. at the same time we completed 640 applications.
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also at many years high. unfortunately backlogs are not new to us cis. internal and external factors have affected workloads across the life of the agency. indeed at the time it was established in 2002 as the chairwoman noted us cis inherited a backlog of cases. that backlog largely resulted from delays in background checks and security checks that were implement it following the attacks on september 11, 2001. since that time a number of factors assist our ability to meet workload challenges timely. tape -- today many factors it resulted in a lengthy processing time. significantly increased receipts over the past several years have outpaced our ability to process the work. other factors like statutory changes, citizenship drives and implementation of new procedure requirements such as security checks, new immigration
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programs and policy changes have impacted our processes and processing times. us cis does its best to apply lessons learned from historical workload fluctuations and i believe we do well at it. sometimes all of these factors can stress our ability to complete our work as quickly as we would like. are we satisfied applicants wait as long as they do for decisions on their request? we are not. what are we doing to shorten the time it takes for applicants to get their decisions? we are taking advantage of the resources we have. we are hiring to increase capacity. field operations has had on board percentage in the high 90s for several years. we are evaluating key processes and procedures to maximize process integrity and minimize waste. we are taking advantage of electronic tools to increase accuracy and efficiency. just one example of these approaches we recently moment a program we call information
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services modernization. this program is designed to free up a significant amount of field operations staff time, to handle their core adjudicative activities and interviews rather than providing information in person which we believe the data are showing can be done more correctly and faster via other means. detailed in our written testimony are other efficiency initiatives and process reforms including reintroducing performance metrics for field offices leveraging electronic processing and automation, developing innovative scheduling methods and new approaches to staffing as workplace management and we are seeing results from this work. in fiscal year 2018 the field operations produce more completions and greater efficiency than in prior years and we believe we are doing our work responsibly. in this fiscal year we are doing a significant amount by a significant percentage.
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all while keeping case completions up. in this fiscal year due to our operational performance and decreasing receipts we have seen processing times for adjustment of status begin to lessen. us cis is often struggled with processing times but i'm confident we have the imagination and determination to address the latest backlog and to do so responsibly. as i expect my colleagues would agree no solution will be immediate and comprehensive. i do think we will see improvements in processing times, and backlog prevention. thank you for your interest in this important matter and i will be happy to answer any questions you may have. >> we now go to members of the subcommittee for their questions. i am sorry. michael hoefer, i want to hear from you and that was an oversight, please begin. >> distinguished members of the
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subcommittee, thank you for invitation to address the subcommittee and opportunity to discuss the workload challenges we face at us cis. i am michael hoefer, chief of performance and quality and managing director at us cis. i've served in this capacity since 2016. my career with us cis and the immigration and naturalization service before that began at the statistics office in 1982. i served as director of dhs's office of immigration statistics from 2004-2013. based on that experience i will provide an overview of the primary factors that have driven the current backlog processing delays. i serve in the management directorate which is responsible for multiple support functions like procurement, financial
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management, it systems, human resources, my area of responsible before performance measurement and analysis. my office makes initial recommendations that require staffing levels based on future workload projections and efficiency rates. as you can see, while men and women at the management directorate not directly adjudicate operations but they provide infrastructure and means by which our agency measures its work. as we heard today backlogs are not new to us cis. the us experienced its highest backlog in 2013 at 3.6 million applications and petitions due in part to increased security following 9/11. the backlog in pending applications is 2.4 million. what does the backlog mean to applicants and petitioners? let me give you an example. it has taken 10 months whereas our goal is 5. we know from experience it is possible through operational efficiency and additional
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resources to reduce our backlog. the 2003 backlog, a series of initiatives including congressional appropriation in the authority to use premium processing to hire additional staff. we were able to address the backlog to 50,000 x 2010 but it has risen each year since then. most of the recent growth in the backlog was in 2016-17. the backlog grew from 634,000 in 15 for 1.5 million in 16 increase to 2.3 million as of september 2017. more than 70% of the increase in the backlog between 2010 and now occurred in those two years. the backlog has stabilized since 2017 growing by 110,000 in the past 20 months. there are many factors that
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contribute to changes in the backlog but i want to discuss the most significant factors we identified for 2016-17, the timeline where we saw the most growth. we projected our receipts would increase in 2016 and increase in 2017 due to the combined impact of two factors, the national election in 2016 and fee increase one month later. what we received previously increased before a national election and increased the following year. when a notice of proposed fee increase is published it usually motivates applicants and petitioners to apply before the increases are implement it especially for cases that are more discretionary like naturalizations. in 2016, increased more than we projected but unlike past election year cycle experience receipts continue to decrease in 2017. the elevated receipt levels over to your period were largely responsible for the growth in the backlog of 16-17, receipt levels of returned to normal in 2018-19 which has helped us to reduce the growth
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in the backlog. number of completions in 2018 were the highest ever, 5-year high in the number of persons taking office with citizenship. the growth in receipts allowed us to continue to hire more staff and decrease over time. increasing 7% in 17, 5% in 18, increasing staff is an effective component of backlog reduction, effective but not immediate. hiring trends and staff almost always takes a few years, with 3 tried to move as quick as we can but it is a reactive process that we have to identify funds, recruit, hire and that can take months. recognizing us cis recently began modeling a 6 year time horizon. under this model us cis is able to proactively identify required staff to achieve
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cases. such a process will not only allow us cis to increase the backlog but provide a new one. i appreciate the time and attention you have given my colleagues and me. thank you once more and we answer questions. >> thank you very much and thank you to each one of you for that useful and informative testimony. we will now go to members of the subcommittee have questions under the 5 minute rule. i recognize first the ranking member for his question. >> i think the chair. i will yield to mister mcclintock. >> that will be fine. we recognize mister mcclintock and you later. >> madam chairman, michael hoefer, didn't the information required of applicants double
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back in 2016 from 10 pages to 20 or any of the panels. >> of your friend application for citizenship it was in 2012 or 13, application. >> twice the information you have to verify and consider for each application. >> it adds complexity and some length to our interviews. >> it is in uptick, and how big an update. >> the naturalization in 2016 and more in 2017. >> what about 10 years ago? >> we normally would average
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700-800,000 applications. >> 700-8000 up to 1 million. >> that is correct. >> 2025% increase in the number of people who are applying. on the other side how many applications do you process or approve? >> in fiscal year 18, we completed 750,000 approvals and it was closer to 850,000 completions. >> what were those figures 10 years ago? >> i don't have them, they were lower. >> much lower? significantly lower. >> we had some years where we
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were higher after the increase in naturalization, going back to the 90s. >> the number of applications approved higher or lower in the past. >> over the last 5 years. there were particular years in the past -- >> that i am trying to get at is the amount of applications increased dramatically, 20%-25%. the information you have to sort through is doubled with the doubling of the forms and we are seeing a substantial increase in applications approved and naturalizations completed so is the backlog a function of those two issues, principally more information to go through and more applications to process? >> i agree with that.
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the receipts are coming in and how long it takes the resources available to us in those cases. >> to the ranking member. >> the gentleman yields back. we will turn to the gentleman from california. >> thank you. i want to thank our witnesses for the work you are doing. let me follow the comments from my colleague in california. after 911, 2013, the application doubled, is that correct? into 20 pages and can understand why security issues and what have you so you double the work you have to do for
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citizenship application yet i would imagine the automation since 2013 has increased. is that correct? for processing? personnel that you have? productivitywise in terms of each individual is that going up or down? thorough processing for individual? >> productivity per officer has gone up this year from last. >> it has gone up. you have about 700 new slots you have been authorized? >> how are you doing in terms of hiring? >> we have made hiring a focus. in field operations, we are in the high 90% of staff. >> moving ahead at a pretty good case. >> doing all we can. >> thank you. i say that, i got into
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government, i used to apply applications for citizenships, one of them for my uncle, god rest his soul, 70 years old, applied to be a us citizen, lived here for 50 years. as an attorney i filled out his application, waited for a year, called and we lost the application, filled it out again. we didn't know the year. third time i didn't call, went to los angeles to see what was going on, nice lady behind the counter said let me find the application, 2 hours later she came back, had a special line for attorneys, came back with have the application, we lost the other half of the application. she was very nice and said i'm not going to make you wait another year, pull over to the
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side, here's the whole application. 31/2 years later we finally made in the us citizen but i am sure we have a process system where paperwork is at a minimum. am i correct in assuming that? >> we have a way to file as well. >> i'm trying to figure out, you are doing a great job given what you have got in front of you but we have a lot of folks that have fulfilled their requirement to be americans. the american dream, full us citizens. as i read through this information listening to your testimony i'm trying to figure out what can i do to help you help those individuals who want to be americans fulfill the american dream of being an american? we have authorized new personnel for you in the process of hiring them. you need more resources for automation, so make sure you
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crosscheck all this information to make sure only the good people that deserve to be americans are americans, what else can we do to help you get your job done in a timely manner? >> i think one of the things that it could help is we do want to expand our training facility and have money designated for that but we need authority from congress to expand that so that would help us to get people on board and trained and ready to work. >> anything else? hiring border patrol agents is a challenge for us because of the lie detector test and the challenge but we don't have anything similar to that in terms of challenges, hiring folks, anything else we can do to help expedite the process,
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reduce the backlog? >> we are a defunded agency for the most part but some appropriated funds so our ability to hire staff is dependent on the fees that we collect. we need to collect those fees before we can spend the man they need to be set properly to cover our costs. i would ask when we periodically review our fee structure that you be supportive of the fees we need to set to recover our costs. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the gentle lady from arizona is recognized for 5 minutes. >> thank you. michael valverde, has anyone in this administration told you to slowdown citizenship cases? >> know. >> is anyone in this administration told you to slow down any case processing? >> know.
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>> michael valverde, what do you say to those who claim you're trying to slow processing on purpose on citizenship applicants from getting naturalized and becoming partners? >> i would say the data and evidence shows the opposite. i am lucky each day to be surrounded by colleagues who come to work to process immigration requests efficiently and with utmost integrity as we can and they spent their careers bringing people to the franchise whether they register to vote is another thing but they spent their careers helping people become citizens. it is the proudest work we do. >> isn't it true that during fiscal year 18 your agency naturalized more people than any of the previous 5 years? >> yes. >> donald neufeld, in the testimony in the next panel
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mister cohen will testify us cis's new policy means any small mistake or lack of information on application can result in denial without giving applicants a chance to correct the mistakes. is this an accurate description of the policy? >> a request for evidence, is something we issue when the evidence that was submitted is insufficient to demonstrate they are eligible for the benefit they are seeking. we issue requests for the purpose of allowing the applicant or petitioner to perfect their filing. the change that happened, there had been a previous change, a policy that for the most part where the evidence does not support approval, a couple circumstances the officer in
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all circumstances and issue of notice of intent to deny. the change you are referring to, the witness is referring to, there was a change in policy to clarify where the record appears to be complete the decision can be rendered on the record without having to issue a request for evidence or notice of intent to deny in all circumstances. >> michael hoefer, the house regionally passed hr 6, the american dream and promise acts which provide a path to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants. i'm not going to ask your thought on the bill. you probably can't say that anyway but i would like to ask you what the implication is going to be on operational aspects from that bill if it passed and became law.
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>> certainly. a lot depends on how it is implemented and what the rules are, if there are 2 million people on 2 billion applications that would have an immediate effect and we talked about the leg. of 2 million people showed up in a given year and we haven't had the money up front, certainly it would have an impact on the backlogs. >> thank you, madam chair. i don't have any more questions. i yield back my time. >> this microphone, hello, here we go. thank you, madam chair and thank you to the panel members for being here today.
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we are here because of the unconscionable backlogs many of us are experiencing throughout the country yet this administration is adding to the problem by imposing new hurdles for applicants in every step of the process. the greater houston area, one of the fastest-growing and most diverse regions, certainly appreciates contributions and diversity brings to the local economy and culture. houston diverse economy and culture is affected by these processing delays. march 28th, congressman olson also from houston, a letter from the houston delegation to the former director outlining the impact of these delays in the houston community, democrats and republicans are concerned about the future of families and businesses, the backlog problem continues. this letter was signed by members of the houston area delegation was according to the most recent data the average time for a wind card application is currently
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between 15-28 months. for naturalization the backlog varies between 14-29 months. for the eye 765 employment authorization the delay can be up to 5 months causing loss of wages for many applicants. the uncertainty experienced among applicants and those who depend on contributions is disconcerting and unacceptable. though we understand staffing is up at the agency it is a long process requiring you all to do better. we have identified the problem and we have the best solutions. regrettably one of the questions we ask was do we need additional funding to respond in a timely way? he answered now although us cis appreciate the offer of assistance. i want to begin with just that
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question to the panel members today. do you need additional statutory directional funding? all three of you, just yes or no. >> has my colleague said before, we are a fee funded agency so we appreciate the support to adjust our fees. .. we need solutions coming from your agency. all three of you are career, right? you were not political appointees? >> right. >> many of you have been here through many years. mr. hoefer, you identified the
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pattern thread for an election or before, w correctly? >> that's correct. >> we have an election coming. have you already put in place the planning and processes to prepare for that knowing there will be an increase? >> yes, ma'am. within field operations we recognized the trend that you refer to, that leading up to the election years there's often increase in applications. we also recognize the fact that the growth in receipts has not impacted equally across the country. some of the work we're doing is to try to ensure the impacts of receipts, , the impacts of free election application growth are addressed where they are most critical. that is to say, where there are places like houston and others where the processing times are higher than we would like and higher than some other places.
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we're doing the work there to make sure the applicants experience in houston is more similar to an average applicants experience across the nation. >> what concerns me with some of the things we're hearing about some of the changes, number one, the fee increases, number two, the idea people may not get their interviews in the same location where they made the application but may have to travel the great distance. a couple of other things that just seen to be barriers rather than a path to getting the application done. what is it you are proposing that would actually help people get their applications timely processed and completed? >> the time of the gentleman has expired the witnesses were pleased answered. >> a number of things. first, with respect to the changing of appointment jurisdiction, we had looked at the map and where there are locations where the to field
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offices are close and we can move zip code or something like that, at that enables a group of applicants to have their casein sooner. that's why we've done that. those individuals should they be able to travel would get the casein sooner and it's for the purpose of getting the benefit faster. we're doing a number things as i i said in my testimony so i won't repeat it here around process reform, hiring and other things to help everyone's case go faster. >> achy. thank you, madam chair. yield back. >> the gentleman from north dakota is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, madam chair. i just want to clarify, so do we need additional congressional funding on top of the funding? >> i'll take that one. i think what you're saying is one thing we should clarify none of us should oversee the budget that as an executive i'm aware of some of the constraints.
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at present we are unable to hire to the staffing levels that are workload would support because of our fiscal and budget constraints. and so i think it's safe to say that additional money would help. the source whether it is appropriate or fee funds, as an operator it doesn't matter it would just be helpful to have the staff. >> i appreciate talk about significant distance. i married an immigrant and we live in rural north dakota. this is 2004. the process in and of itself is daunting, and this is coming from two pretty educated people. i just graduated law school. she was in law school that when you drive 350 miles to minneapolis and show up for hearing that was scheduled by immigration gets an attempt to go home because they are not ready for you. you have to turn about and come back. it's not like going around the block.
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i practiced in this area. our firm has practiced in this area through three presidents. i appreciate the backward talk about the history of this because this didn't all start on january, the first week in january of 2017. throughout the campaign, throughout our office i've met with people who are waiting on 2008 visa permits to be processed. these are researchers who work at the lincoln research in north dakota, five employees total. the frustration level for not only them but also their employers and the community at large when you have the community under 1200 people. they become part of it. i'm glad we're having this conversation but i do have one specific question relating to eb-5 background, and that's just foreign nationals can apply for permanent residence if you make necessary investment in targeted employment areas. i know there's a rule which as
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proposed eb-5 modernization regulation would increase the minimum investment amount significantly, transfer targeted employment areas, designation from the state economic government agencies to the department of homeland security and create priority date which it did for eb-5 data as previously approved. the uscis submit the proposed eb-5 emigration investor program modernization in february of 2019, correct? >> yes, sir. >> and omb finished its review of eb-5 in june? >> i understand the just recently finished it, yes, sir. >> do you have a status update on where that is at? >> it is still in the process so it has not been publish it as you know. i would expect it will be published relatively soon but i don't have a date to give you. >> relatively soon, that's a
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pretty ambiguous -- we like use that term. so mont? >> i would think it is less than months. >> thank you. i don't have any other questions. yes? >> i i want to clarify one poin. you answered the question earlier, mr. valverde, about whether you believe it would be beneficial for congress to appropriate money, and you didn't use a yes or a no, and thin words were put in your mouth and the answer was, i believe that's a yes. i didn't hear a yes, and i want to make sure, there are benefits are there not to having a fee funded system as opposed to an appropriations system for your agency's? >> not an expert in the area. i know enough, there some profound differences, and i guess that's as much as i can say without getting myself -- >> so you just don't like yes or no answers, do you?
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>> with the gentleman yield? i would note, these are career service, they don't have really the luxury of opining. that's a policy decision for carbs to make but i don't think anyone is proposing that we move uscis away from a fee funded agency, just to clarify. >> i appreciate that chairwoman clarifying because i think it's important. there is a perception that your agency's are defended because the individuals that are applying pay those fees and not u.s. taxpayers. i think that is an important perception for many in this country, and i appreciate the fact you are operating under a fee schedule. and i yield the balance of my time. >> yield back and the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from colorado is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, madam chair, for holding to support hearing. i want to follow-up on a point made by some of my colleagues a moment ago.
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this isn't just about money. a a baseline setbacks. from fiscal year 2018 to 2017 those at the chips that decrease my stint in the point of application submitted. does that sound about right? >> it sounds right, just. >> and from fiscal year 2018 the fiscal year 2017 your budget had a 6% increase. does that sound about right? >> yes. >> i'm not making the case that there may be a resource allocation issue, but to the point that my colleague from arizona made early which posed a question to what not to been direct by anyone to slow walk application and so forth, the central question which i think you've answered in your written test what is, that there is policies or agency is adopted in the last two years since the trump administration took office and perhaps at the behest, has that exacerbated the backlog?
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we understand it was a backlog before january 1, 2017, but i think a written testimony confirms that yes, that is one of the reasons that there is a backlog. accurate to say? >> let me go back to the question about decrease in the receipts. i think is a testified what happened is there is some lag when you get receipts -- >> i understand. it's a simple question. again, i guess we will let you written will speak for itself. there are a variety of policies in addition to a number of other factors that have lengthened processing times. that's not a fair statement to make? >> that is fair. >> just baseline setbacks at the grad operate under for purposes of this hearing. i appreciate the work you'll do and a preacher to service and i appreciate you us today. we have a cyst problem this backlog which understand has existed for quite some time but
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has been exacerbated over the course of the last two fiscal years in particular is not sustainable. 344% increase from the net backlog of cases in 2014, look at a five-year window and a colorado, my state, the ranking member will i suspect appreciate this as well. there is a long queue that is building and building. i appreciate your efforts but i think the point by calling from texas made we ought to be focusing on solutions to these problems. one of the issues i want to ask you all about, the backlog reduction plan that you submitted with the summer you submitted to this committee lists as one of your goals, or i should say, one of your initiatives that you intend to implement to address the backlog, it's number five in your list, we defining processing time calls to better reflect true cycle times. which understand based on your written testimony was a
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recommendation made by the dhs office of inspector general. the way i i read this is what u were saying was, right now because the agency is unable to fulfill the 120 daigle for a variety of different applications, resident applications and so forth, you intend to simply change the goal and instead of saying 120 days, make it 180 days. i can tell you from my perspective having run a regulatory agency colorado, a small budget, 600 employees, appearing before our legislative committee jurisdiction would not sit well if i said i will simply change the processing time because we can't meet it. does anyone have a way to explain that? >> i'll respond to that briefly. the oig statement to me says the 120 daigle of all the things that the agency must do to process an application for adjustment of status, they are
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not feasible and 120 days, with all the background checks, fingerprint of point, interview, et cetera, and thus we should go back and give the public a better expectation. from my perspective as an operator one of the things over the years that has taken time away from our core duty function is responding to people who, reasonably say, when is the case going to be due. >> i would say certain degree, perhaps better responsiveness and pedicure indication that the process. i appreciate what you're doing with respect to online programs. that would accomplish which are after but extending the timelines that is quote-unquote more realistic to me is not an appropriate response to what is a critical backlog. you mention, mr. valverde, with respect to these, who pays your fees? who pays the fees? >> our salaries come from the use of these. >> what do you call them?
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welcome for the existence of such a agency was touted we call them customers. the term was removed from your mission statement as was the term nation of immigrants, a year ago. in my view some of this is cultural. to the extent we can see individuals as customers, that this agency set to serve as a result of the law that was passed in 2002, i think it implicates the way in which we look at these and the plans we make to comport with them. with that i will yield back. >> we turn now to the gentleman from florida. >> thank you, madam chair. my first those of questions isr you, mr. valverde. mr. cohen highlights the naturalization work that uscis is undertaking. isn't it true that this work focuses on individuals who fraudulently obtain citizenship and that the work began under
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the obama administration? can you explain what you are doing as it relates to that? >> absolutely. the work began in the late 2008 or nine timeframe and the most highlighted in the oig report in 2016 when uscis really got involved. but the short some of the work is that in the course of uploading old paper files into our electronic finger print database we started getting matches with different sets of biographic information. what we were saying, and may be terms, is two sets of identity to the same fingerprint. so the work we started in 2016 and we continue today is to get those cases together, if it's two files are three files in some instances, compare the records and find individuals who opting the benefit we think
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through fraud, and write that. there are some that we don't think that was the case, but for the ones that we do we write that up into an affidavit and work with department of justice for them to do the d naturalization process in the court. >> and also in his testimony mrs adjudicators are quote asking for more proof of marriage if applicant is a blank based on their marriage. if an applicant is a point based on their marriage doesn't only make sense your adjudicators would ask questions about the marriage? i.c.e. and the purpose is to find that if there's fraud. is marriage fraud a real issue you see in the department? >> yeah, i won't, a specific cases but marriage fraud is an issue that we come across on a daily basis in many of our offices and it is something we give our office of special train for so they can pay attention to ensuring it's a bona fide relationship that forms the basis of either request for
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permanent residency or citizenship. >> i've even seen in my own district i case that was brought to my attention where the parties were allegedly married and both the alleged wife was living with another man and the alleged husband was living with another woman. so it's definitely an issue, at least i've seen in my district and short on being elected in congress in the last six months. i think there's fraud as it relates to getting married and trying to get citizenship and access to her country. in her testimony for the next bend, ms. lindt sees -- didn't agree how it comes with significant benefits and rights, cracked? >> yes, sir. >> would you agree to ensuringn alien is, in fact, eligible for green card is important and required by law? >> yes. >> and are the indies for employment-based green card at it unreasonable delays to the adjudication? >> in my opinion no, sir. i think it is a measure of
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integrity to the face-to-face conversation and ascertain evidence of other eligibility for the benefit for some who wants to remain here permanently to live and travel and work year. >> i have question for mr. neufeld. how much time do i have left? okay, mr. neufeld, is a true if an adjudicator is adjudicating an applicant, an application or petition and needs additional information, the adjudicator has only two two options, either ia request for evidence or deny the application altogether, is that correct? >> essential. they can also issue a notice of intent to give them an opportunity to respond. >> so they can have an opportunity to respond but that's it. okay. the latest uscis ombudsman reported congress recommends uscis emphasize applicants verify the addresses provided for all forms filed with uscis. how much of your problem is that people do not provide your
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current address? >> i think it's more of a problem that her address my change, so our records to reflect the correct address. in the employment context, occasionally we will find where the attorneys address or the employers address will be used as the beneficiaries address and that great problems with this try to sort through that when we adjudicate the case. >> so if it's that type of scenario and they're not updating of the new address that is delaying the delivery of work permits from your agency? >> yes. >> how am i doing? >> your time has expired. >> there you go. thank you, madam chair. >> the gentlelady from florida is recognized for five minutes. >> hello? hello? i think an efficient and service oriented immigration system is vital to businesses, for our economy, most also for families
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that are living here in the united states. it allows families to be reunited with loved ones and it enhances the diversity which makes this nation great. i am actually a naturalized citizen. i remember going through the process, and i'm so grateful that i was allowed that opportunity but it did take years before we were eligible and about to become u.s. citizens. in 2010 uscis reseed 1 million fewer cases than gear before but the average case processing delay continues to rise. the backlog of cases at uscis has created challenges for businesses, universities, hospitals, and mostly families, like a mentioned. despite this, earlier figure the
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administration announced uscis plans to close all international field offices. these offices are critical resources and processing beverage applications, family-based visa applications and other immigration matters. my district in miami serves a large population of cuban-americans. from one day to the next the uscis field office in havana was closed. and as a result families are now separated. i hear on a daily basis hundreds of my community members that are writing to us, calling to us, they tweet asking for for a ret for this issue. they tell me they wouldn't have left cuba if the new at the sons and daughters would not be able to unite with them here in miami. i wanted to first ask mr. valverde, who make the decision to close the office in havana to
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process the parole and family related visas for the cubans that are applying for these visas? >> i don't have a first and add to that. i understand it was the former director. >> okay. so not the fate of an offices closed what is the processor processing these applications and getting the family back together? >> i think none of us on the panel are working in our overseas offices administration that we would have to get back to you. i do understand the have an office was closed after the attacks on our speedy yes, but there was never any evidence it had a do with the government there, and the thousands of families are suffering the consequences of that closure that any responses. if you could please provide me with that information within the next two weeks as to what the plan is to process those applications that were already started. and just as a general matter, how does closing a uscis office
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impact the backlog the agency is seen, mr. neufeld? >> as my colleagues mentioned, none of us here oversee the overseas offices so we are lubitsch house with this. as a service center executive, i would anticipate some of the work that is presently performed overseas may be coming to the service centers and we would need to prepare for that. i'm aware on occasion family-based petitions might be adjudicated on-site at an international office, and i would anticipate that work would be coming to a service center instead. >> who made the decision in the agency to close all the field offices, international field offices? >> again, that's a bit of a challenge for us. as i understand it the decision hasn't been finalized in terms of specifically which offices are going to be closed. >> and you are aware a lot of
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these international field offices process international adoptions, they support refugee resettlement and the handle family reunification applications. in addition they also deal with some of these fraudulent cases. i'm concern is not enough preparation here nationally how we're going to prepare to closing these international field offices. the has uscis or dhs conducted a cost-benefit analysis are otherwise studied the potential impact of disclosures on the processing of refugees, adoptions and other services, is there a study that has been conducted? >> i don't know. >> the gentlelady's time has expired. >> thank you very much. >> the gentlelady's time texas is recognized for five minutes thank you, madam chair. and many thanks to those of you on the panel for being here. thanks for your service.
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we have seen a a theme this wek with the hearings that we've had. we had a hearing yesterday on the horrific overcrowding in the el paso processing facility as documented by the office of inspector general. and today as laid out by my colleagues, the gentleman from colorado, we have seen also a terrible backlog that has been exacerbated by policy. during yesterday hearing what finally surfaced was the policy by this administration was making a challenging situation worse. i believe that the same applies here. and just as an example of what we continue to face, in october of 2018, uscis published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would dramatically heighten the standard for determining whether an individual is likely
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to become a public charge. in the background information of the proposed rule, dhs admitted that the new rule could lead to worse health outcomes, increased prevalence of communicable diseases, increased rates of poverty and housing instability, and reduce productivity and educational attainment. will setting aside the fact that the rule as proposed is illegal and exceed the agency statutory authority, i would like to ask either mr. neufeld or mr. valverde the following question. when can we expect final action from the agency on this rule? >> i don't have a date on that. it's still going through the rulemaking process. >> if finalized as proposed will this new will increase the amount of time it takes to adjudicate applications for adjustment of status and other benefits? and if so, what is the estimated additional time burden?
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>> i will take that as well. the rule change, like any change, will add a complexity as we train people and try to roll it out. i don't have an estimate right now because the rule has not been finalized and we don't have the final language that will apply to our cases. >> will you be evaluating how much extra time it will take, what kind of a burden it will add to the agency? >> absolutely. we evaluate every two-year the process, how long it takes us to do all our actions or in annual budget process, that is how we allocate the staff that we have to do the work. >> i would request that you and your subsequent budget once the rule has been applied that you please make a a note of that of the additional time and additional staffing that would be required in order to deal with the rule, please. also, what steps has uscis taken to prepare for the additional burdens that will be imposed on the adjudicatory process as a
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result of this rule? what is a plan to ensure processing delays on affected applications stay within reasonable time frames? and that doesn't mean changing the goalpost. that means providing customer service in the appropriate time. >> as i mentioned amendment ago, -- a minute ago, , when we get e final rule and we can build processes and procedures around will have a better sense of answering a question with more specificity. but as we are aware of the rule and as we've seen the proposed rule, we can make some guesses and so we're doing are planning to quit taken into account in a budget process this year. at this point we're making some assumptions about application rates and other impacts. we are doing are planning as we speak right now and we will see when the rule is finalized and with the timeframe is and how our assumptions are played out in reality.
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>> if finalized as proposed the new rule would require significant mr. hoefer, adjudicators who would be required to gain expertise in complex areas of public benefits, including state medicaid programs. the proposal includes no time or cost estimates of the necessary training. has uscis estimate the costs for training and in many the new rule? if so, what are these estimate costs? >> i don't have an estimate for you but one of the first things i did when i joined the agency in 1997 was to the public charge rule that we did at the time based on the 1996 act, and it's very similar. we had to teach adjudicators to understand what public benefits were and how to the impact of the benefits. i say that to illustrate we're accustomed to policy changes or statutory changes or process changes in bringing our people through that with the goal of implementing it as efficiently as we can and as consistent as we can across the hundreds of
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thousands of applications that we will get. so we we're working on it now. >> and her customers will shoulder the burden of the added cost, correct? >> the gentlelady's time has expired but the gentleman may answer. >> correct. >> the gentlelady's time pennsylvania is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. i just want to make clear that uscis is the agency charged with processing application for people who are trying to follow our rules and become legal residence or get work authorization or become citizens, right? okay. so they are not people hiding from the government. the action of providing a lot of information to the government as they seek to have those applications adjudicated, right? mr. hoefer, i'll let you speak for the group. thank you. and until they get citizenship they can't vote, they can't receive social scaredy benefits usually.
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sometimes people can't work. there are a host of benefits that are attended upon becoming either a legal resident or citizen, correct? >> yes. >> will i think you mentioned te increase rather than decrease in citizenship applications following the 2016 presidential election, right? >> that is correct, yes. >> so after a presidential election there's usually some kind of drop off. >> yes. >> i can help you with why that happened. as a legal services attorney, immediately following the election in 2016 we started encouraging people to obtain citizenship if they were eligible due to the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from the administration, and i think the administration helped deliver that message pretty
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forcefully when the first executive orders to come out of this white house were divan travel by people who were from predominantly muslim nations and to completely up and our deportation priorities, going from just excluding vat hombres as one might call them, to anyone who did not have permanent legal status under our laws so there's a huge incentive for people to try to file the paperwork and get whatever status they were able to. but it don't think you mentioned some of the things. one thing i noted in going to the testimony, the inspector general did mention the electronic documentation services has had some serious deficiencies at that also slown processing, correct? >> i can speak to that because we used to for citizenship also for green cards.
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for citizenship, i will get my years on, in the 15-16 timeframe it was much slower because some of the difficulties you are referring to. >> and the inspector general's report was from november 2017 at which point the difficulties were continuing, with a not? >> i put that's the right timeframe. shortly after that we got back into the system and we been using it since. >> so you had to resume using a system that you'd been trying to upgrade because of deficiencies in the new system? >> we had started to use it and decided it was better to fix it and pause for a while and resume when it was working the way we intended it to. >> that was the perry to time themselves to when this backlog started to explode, isn't that right? >> it was while the backlogs were rolling. i would note we had a pair of the system, the older system,
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that we can tend to use. so we did not sit on her hands. we had work to do during that time as we improved the new system. >> but it contributed to the backlog, right? >> that's their. >> what you did mention was that have been a lot of policy changes during the course of this administration that impacted your ability to process applications, isn't that correct? >> correct. >> and they would include additional rfps request for evidence that were not previously required? >> the policies didn't direct that we would issue more request for evidence, no. >> there has been some suggestion it has been duplicated in some cases? you haven't heard complaints your requesting evidence in duplicative manners? >> sometimes the request will be issued and then followed by a
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request for the same evidence? >> yes. >> i'm sure any millions of cases we process that mistakes are made but that's not a common -- >> as someone who is have to submit the attorney representation files six or eight times on the same case, i think there are some issues with that. another policy that would seem to have increased time for response would be eliminating the 90 day deadline for processing employment applications, right, if there no longer a deadline, can take longer? >> know, that didn't drive how much longer it takes to process cases. >> the gentlelady's time has expired but we got in and to the last question? okay, thank you. then the ranking member has said he will pass in this round of questions so i will go to my questions, and i think we are expecting a vote on floor very soon so we will have to come back for the second panel after
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that vote. i'm concerned about how the processes have changed and the impact on the administration of the benefits program. obviously everybody wants a system that avoids fraud and adheres to the requirements, but i just have questions about the impact in certain cases. the opc program, optional practical training program, by regulation, the earliest student can apply is 90 days before the end of the educational program. and i've heard that the
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employment, that the delays are so extreme, five much or no, that in some cases you got a student who has graduated from college, they are going to go on to their phd, they have internship. the internship is over before the even get the approval of opg. the whole idea of having this program is undercut by the delay, as a sort of wonder what is being achieved here other than to undercut what the agency wants to do because of the delay. i have concerns about what's happening on employment site. we had a number of questions on the family side, which is very important. but i sing from the statistics that nearly 50% of all h-1b1 visas received in the second quarter of 2019, 2019, and i'm
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wondering why. i'll give you an example of, i come from silicon valley. i recently had a casual conversation with somebody i've known for many years, a serial entrepreneur. he spent ceo of very large companies and now he is a startup and yet in h-1b visas holder that was renewing the h-1b, and instead of getting the renewal, , he got a question frm uscis, was this guys phd really well fitted to the job? his question, what would uscis know about that phd versus him as the employed? and secondly, why this big study on a renewal of an h-1b? he said what changed? was the first process wrong? people are just feeling jerked around, like a better term. in bobby scott archimedean recruiters come into american tech centers and learning people away. the tech economy in toronto is
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growing faster than the tech economy in silicon valley and washington. a lot of people think it's because of uscis and our immigration policy. can you tell me about why we are doing the rfes were doing in the h-1b program for renewals in particular? >> so that one's mind. i can tell you a number of changes have been made affecting h-1b processing over the last couple of years. i'm sure you're familiar with them. when there's a change that's introduced we have 21st, we train our folks but also to educate the public on what the requirements are as we know understanding. whenever that happens regardless of what context, usually it's is pretty predictable will have an increased and request for evidence, perhaps increase in the niles. usually over time as the public become familiar with what the
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requirements are and as our adjudicators become more efficient we will see the request, the impact of the changes become more stable. >> let me ask you another question. somebody said why don't we have some judgment being shown in these cases? we know there are entities that abuse the h-1b program and is not going to be a single person on this panel that this don't scrutinize that situation. we all agree on that but then your situation where that's not the case and your people are being denied and then they appealed and the winter appeals every single time. what's happened is you just added money, cost, delay for no outcome. is it any analysis going on where the appeals are always successful and the denials are always wrong and to do some assessment on what you were doing here? >> i won't say there's been a study of the decisions coming
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from the aao but i will tell you that as we receive decisions from the aao that overturn the decision of the adjudicator we do review those and determine whether it's a training issue or is it some other guidance that needs to be clarified or what have you. >> just a final question. i've also received a lot of complaints about the use of denials or ftes as compared to the more informal notice of intent process that used to be more prevalent. for example, i've had tech people say you know there was a clerical error on the application. instead of calling up saying was that this date or that date or whether a typo on this line, they request evidence for the denied even worse, you have to go through a whole expensive process. why is that? what's the value in it?
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>> i think this gets back to the change in policy we were discussing previously. the fire policy did require that pretty much in every circumstance even if their records seem to be fully there, that request for evidence would be issued and the policy changed and allowed for folks to go straight to a decision if they felt the record is complete. i don't know, i don't think we've done a study to determine the impact as for summary cases have gone straight to do now as opposed to having a request for evidence issued in the interim. i would imagine we could get data on on the. >> since i've asked others to keep within five minutes, my thin -- my favorite is up. i will know we've also been called to a vote. we have additional questions. sheila, you came in later. before we and this here let me turn to ms. jackson lee for five minutes and then we will have enough time to get to the floor. the gentlelady from texas is
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recognized. >> i think the chair and thank you for holding the steering. i want to just come to the witnesses, uscis has acknowledged some policy changes have slowed processing and increase the overall case backlog. does uscis, and a note we've had a series of questions like this, make any effort to improve data collection and analysis to better understand the impact of future policy changes on processing time in case backlog? >> we do reviews, looking back in time to see the policy effects and certainly when we have information about the various policies we try to make estimates of how long things are going to take. we regularly do reviews every year of this nature. >> is what is your backlog now? if you had to get a landscape across the nation of how many backlog cases you are dealing
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with, do you have a handle on it? >> we have to .4 million cases in backlog and overall we have 5.9 million cases pending. >> and those individuals, do they have a document indicating pending case? are they subject to the actions of immigration enforcers because they are not status? are you continuing to provide them with updated paperwork that the present status is due to your backlog? >> i can take that. so everybody who files a petition or application will receive a receipt and that will indicate that the case is pending. depending on what they are applying for my provide them with a status or some protection from removal. it depends really on what their status was before they applied and what the status was that
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they are seeking. >> employment authorization delays have been substantial. delays in employment authorization have significant impact on many different state called and can result in prolonged binging or even job loss. families are put in disarray because families are depended on the person seeking the employment status. do you have any way of channeling the employment request, because these people have legitimate base of income, their family members depend on them. is there any way to stovepipe those requests? >> so we are concerned with the processing times for employment authorization documents. one of the things we did was provide for auto extension. if somebody has an employment authorization document and the need to seek an extension, if any on the category they can receive, the their old card is automatically extended while we process the case. that was one of the things we tried to do to provide some
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relief. we also, this category of work is very important. it also competes with the other categories of work we have with our limited resources. we do prioritize it and compared to other processing time for other applications, they typically handled much more quickly but not as quickly as we would like. >> would you consider going back and analyzing how you would resource the employment request in a way that you might recommend that would help you move in faster? certainly that it is important but move them faster. >> yes. >> re: you all appointees or civil servant? >> career civil servant. >> first of all let me thank you for your service. are you noting the disparate directions that seem to be coming from the administration, impacting staffing, impacting immigrants who were coming in
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are not showing up? in terms of the disparate, i don't come frankly, i don't know whether this administration is for any emigration. i don't know if therefore legal or illegal, not illegal but helping undocumented come helping people and country. i have no idea. that sets the tone for the work you do and people accessing your services which are very important and the funding that we in congress pile onto the administration. i'm not sure if it is reaching you because the notion of staff turnover. what's happening with turnover and the people that you see? >> staff turnover, biking agency we experience attrition that is not, i don't think that's a huge concern for us. the difficulty for us is in terms of hiring can take several months. not only to then bring somebody on board but after that to get been trained and experience. >> so congress has given you the resources to hire as you need? >> we are the that it so we
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don't use need to look to congress to authorize our staffing levels. >> so you can expand your staffing levels if necessary? >> yes. >> and you will look to the stove piping of certain employment -- >> the gentlelady's time has expired. >> yes. >> i yield back. >> i ask a statement from united states chamber of commerce dated july 16, 2019 be included in the record. >> without objection, so ordered. i would also ask unanimous consent that the following statements be made a part of the record from the american council on education, the american immigration counsel, the asia pacific us who don't gender-based violence, the association of american universities, boundless emigration, church world services, compete america coalition, forward us, invest in america, national immigration forum, the national partnership for new americans report, and
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again, the information technology industry council. without objection the statements are made a part of the record. just as a parting comment i think planning ahead is something that would be very helpful in terms of changes a policy. i think you heard from any of us when the premium processing policy was changed after the applications had already been mailed on sunday when to due date was monday, and people had to rip checks out and rewrite them. people whose applications had already been sent to reject it because they had more money in the fee. it's just a crazy way to write an outfit. i know it wasn't your decision but that kind of stuff just creates chaos in the community, in the business community and is counterproductive in terms of a good economy for the united states. with this, we will recess until
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after the vote. we will have five legislative days for additional questions to each of you people ask if we do that you would enter them probably. we thank you very much for being here and we will probably be back a little bit after 2:00 for planning purposes if people need to go catch a a stack or something, so we are in recess. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]


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