New York City Council Header
File #: Res 1337-2020    Version: * Name: Opposing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s proposed increases to filing fees for immigration status adjustments.
Type: Resolution Status: Committee
Committee: Committee on Immigration
On agenda: 6/18/2020
Enactment date: Law number:
Title: Resolution opposing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's proposed increases to filing fees for immigration status adjustments, including but not limited to, Citizenship, Permanent Legal Residence, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Asylum, and Temporary Protected Status and urging the federal government not to move forward with its adoption.
Sponsors: Carlos Menchaca, Ben Kallos, Fernando Cabrera
Council Member Sponsors: 3
Attachments: 1. Res. No. 1337, 2. June 18, 2020 - Stated Meeting Agenda with Links to Files, 3. Hearing Transcript - Stated Meeting 6-18-20, 4. Minutes of the Stated Meeting - June 18, 2020

Res. No. 1337

 

Resolution opposing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s proposed increases to filing fees for immigration status adjustments, including but not limited to, Citizenship, Permanent Legal Residence, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Asylum, and Temporary Protected Status and urging the federal government not to move forward with its adoption.

 

By Council Members Menchaca, Kallos and Cabrera

 

                     Whereas, On November 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (‘DHS’) proposed a rule, entitled “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements,” which recommends, among other changes, an 83 percent increase to the citizenship application fee, a 79 percent increase to the permanent legal residence application fee, and a 55 percent increase in the renewal fee for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (‘DACA’); and

                     Whereas, The rule would also eliminate certain fee waivers for individuals experiencing financial hardship; and

                     Whereas, Periodic fee schedule adjustments are standard practice for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (‘USCIS’) to cover its administrative costs and the last fee adjustments were made in 2016; and

                     Whereas, However, the 2019 proposed fee adjustment is unprecedented as it creates new fees for asylum seekers and Temporary Protected Status applicants; and

                     Whereas, Only three other countries in the world charge fees for commensurate humanitarian visas: Iran, Fiji and Australia, and all three offer waivers for extenuating circumstances; and

Whereas, New York City is home to 3.2 million immigrants -  660,000 of whom are lawful permanent residents and could be eligible for citizenship - and approximately 15,000 TPS recipients and 30,000 DACA recipients, with an estimated 45,000 more eligible for these benefits;  and

                     Whereas, New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (‘MOIA’) has determined that at least 280,000 currently naturalization-eligible New Yorkers fall below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and as such would qualify for a fee waiver or reduced fee under the current rule; and

                     Whereas, A 2015 Pew Research Center survey of naturalization-eligible individuals found that 19 percent of those who chose not to naturalize cited financial hardship as a significant barrier to seeking U.S. Citizenship; and

                     Whereas, Further analysis by MOIA has identified a relationship between rising USCIS fees and lower rates of naturalization applications over time; and

                     Whereas, This proposed rule will diminish immigrant New Yorkers’ access to lawful immigration status by imposing a financial burden; and

                     Whereas, USCIS claims the following cost projections justify the proposed fee increases: (1) a more than $100 million transfer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (‘ICE’) for immigration enforcement, and (2) a 44 percent staffing increase at USCIS; and

                     Whereas, These budgetary and staffing maneuvers appear to be shifting USCIS’ ministerial role to that of an enforcement agency; and

Whereas, For example, an October 2019 USCIS press release announced increased staffing levels for individuals with “prior military and law enforcement expertise” in their Asylum Division, in addition to deploying USCIS Asylum Division officers alongside U.S. Border Patrol agents in detention facilities and Border Patrol stations; and

                     

                     Whereas, Actions like shrinking eligibility criteria and increasing fees such as those in this proposed rule create an ‘invisible’ wall that decreases access to lawful status for eligible immigrants; and

                     Whereas, While DHS claims these proposed fee changes will make the process of immigration more equitable, it will necessarily disadvantage vulnerable immigrants who are currently eligible and entitled to immigration status adjustment; and

                     Whereas, The proposed rule will invariably lead to a chilling effect, as individuals choose to abandon their legitimate immigration applications whether due to financial hardship or lack of trust in the objectivity of USCIS; now, therefore, be it

                     Resolved that the Council of the City of New York opposes the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s proposed increases to filing fees for immigration status adjustments, including but not limited to, Citizenship, Permanent Legal Residence, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Asylum, and Temporary Protected Status and urges the federal government not to move forward with its adoption.

EK

2/26/2020

LS13382