New Documents Reveal USCIS Racist Party and Employee Bonuses Despite Claiming Funding Crisis
Even as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has repeatedly sought emergency funding and threatened to furlough its employees in recent months, new documents expose how the agency has been spending its funding. Documents obtained by Make the Road New York and the Center for Constitutional Rights, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) complaint against the Trump administration, reveal USCIS spending thousands of dollars on employees’ bonuses and hosting a catered party for staff who worked on draconian changes to the country’s public charge rules.
The new rules these staff worked on — which the agency ultimately adopted in August 2019 — penalize immigrants who access certain public benefits or are likely to need public benefits, targeting low-income people of color and intentionally obstructing lawful immigration. The rule also discriminates against immigrants based on their wealth, race, country of origin, language abilities or disability status. Now, as immigrants submit fewer applications in response to racist and xenophobic policies such as the new public charge rule, USCIS is claiming a funding crisis. Yet, as new documents show, USCIS has hosted celebratory catered luncheons and employee bonuses, despite arguing a budget shortage and asking Congress for emergency funding.
“The new documents revealing USCIS’s racist party and bonuses to support a new xenophobic policy show that the so-called financial crisis that USCIS has claimed it is facing is an act of the agency’s own making. The Trump administration has perverted the mission of USCIS while advancing policies to further their anti-immigrant agenda and actively discourage immigrants from applying for any type of immigration benefit. Now we know that the agency is rewarding employees for their work to further such xenophobic policies. We demand accountability from this out-of-control agency,” said Eliana Fernandez, Lead Organizer of Make the Road New York.