HIAS Opposes USCIS Proposal to Raise Immigration and Naturalization Fees
Jan 4, 2023
SILVER SPRING, Md. — HIAS is opposing a proposal by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that would once again raise certain immigration and naturalization fees to fund asylum and refugee processing. As the Jewish nonprofit dedicated to welcoming the stranger and protecting forcibly displaced persons, HIAS calls on the United States government to prioritize the protection of refugees and asylum seekers, and to fund that system appropriately, rather than continuing to rely on fees paid by immigrants, work visa holders and their employers who will have to pay a new $600 “Asylum Program Fee Surcharge” to cover the cost of the United States fulfilling its obligations under the International Refugee Convention.
“Protecting refugees and asylum seekers is the responsibility of the U.S. government and of our entire country, and funding our asylum system is the responsibility of all American taxpayers, not just those taxpayers who happen to be immigrants, or business owners who employ work visa holders,” said HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield. “While it is fair for immigrants and employers to pay fees for the costs associated with the adjudication of their own applications, it is unethical and inexplicable to expect immigrants and visitors to bear the lion’s share of the costs of processing people who are seeking protection in this country.”
Hetfield continued, “Last year Congress appropriated $225 million for this purpose and, while some of these funds carried over, this year the U.S. government is offloading the cost of its obligations to protect refugees on fees paid by other newcomers and their employers. While we understand that the Congress has left the administration with little choice other than to rely on fees paid by the foreign-born to protect asylum seekers, this administration should not further increase that burden without having urged lawmakers to change this unfair system, which literally relies largely on family-based and employment-based newcomers and their employers to fund the asylum and refugee programs.”
In its release on the fee increase, even USCIS noted, “USCIS continues to emphasize that Congress could reduce the burden on our fee-paying customers by fully funding our humanitarian mission, as it does for other agencies.”
“Seeking asylum is a basic human right, as established in U.S. law and treaty obligations. The US government cannot outsource its obligation to protect asylum seekers, nor should it outsource the costs of doing so,” Hetfield said.