March 1st marked the day when across-the-board tax cuts were to begin taking place. This process, known as sequestration, will give the U.S. an additional revenue of over $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, but also means that there will be many job cuts nationwide. The Department of Homeland Security is responding to the sequester by reducing spending which may have an impact on immigration enforcement.
With enforcement agencies on tighter budgets, over the last several days many low priority immigration detainees have been released from facilities. “They were either let go on their own recognizance or required to use a telephone check-in system or an ankle bracelet,” according to Gillian Christensen, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE). With less money available to allocate towards paying for employees and expenses associated with running a prison facility, those who have not been released have been transferred to less costly facilities or put under methods of supervision. These detainees are still liable for any charges brought against them, but they will be free from the system until their scheduled court date.
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, laid out the details of the new plan which includes 5,000 job cuts for Border Patrol agents and $1 billion less reserved for disaster relief funding. Border patrol agents, who have doubled in size over the past few years, will have a huge cut in their payroll as many agents will be placed on furlough. Immigration courts which are already facing backlogs will only worsen as lines get longer. “If you have judges and court clerks who have to take a day’s furlough once a week, then that’s 20 percent [cut in productivity].” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which deals with legal immigration including processing visas and naturalization, will be slowed by the budget cuts and hurt people who have “played by the rules” and submitted the proper paperwork. The already slow and expensive immigration system will only become slower less effective with budget cuts affecting every part of the system.
If you have questions regarding applying for a visa or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.