Hispanic Caucus asks for meeting with top immigration official

The leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) on Thursday asked for a meeting with the head of the administration's visa and naturalization agency. 

In a letter to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Francis Cissna, the CHC requested a meeting "regarding various concerning policies that have been implemented since your appointment at [USCIS]." 

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"Specifically, we are concerned that actions under your leadership may be hindering the ability of our constituents and others throughout both our country and world to receive fair, efficient adjudications," wrote CHC Chairman Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroLawmakers call on Trump administration to address Puerto Rico's vulnerability to COVID-19 Texas House Dems ask governor to issue stay-at-home order ICE under pressure to release detainees threatened by coronavirus MORE (D-Texas).

Democratic Reps. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoPentagon gets heat over protecting service members from coronavirus Overnight Defense: Lawmakers call for probe into aircraft carrier captain's firing | Sailors cheer ousted commander | Hospital ship to ease screening process for patients Lawmakers call for investigation into aircraft carrier captain's firing MORE (Ariz.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (Calif.), Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralObama presses for social distancing policies to remain in place Self-quarantined New York lawmaker: 'We should be in total lockdown' Activists, analysts demand Congress consider immigrants in coronavirus package MORE (N.Y.), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarTexas House Dems ask governor to issue stay-at-home order 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Hispanic Democrats demand funding for multilingual coronavirus messaging MORE (Texas) and Linda Sánchez (Calif.) joined Castro in signing the letter. 

Since taking over at USCIS in 2017, Cissna has steered the agency toward a national security perspective, rather than a focus on providing services to applicants.

USCIS is the agency that grants visas to visitors, green cards to prospective permanent residents and naturalization to new U.S. citizens.

Cissna has come under fire for his reforms, many of which have resulted in delays in visa applications and have made it easier for certain documented immigrants to fall afoul of immigration law.

“Things that may look difficult or controversial because such-and-such benefit is being looked at with greater scrutiny or the other, it’s not — we’re not doing that for any other reason than to comport the actions of our agency with the law. That’s what it comes down to,” said Cissna in a rare, wide-ranging interview last August.

But CHC leaders say Cissna's policy decisions are "unnecessarily compounding delays for families, vulnerable individuals and U.S. businesses."

The CHC further complained about USCIS's increased pushback on visa applicants — the agency has significantly increased its negative responses to previously summary visa applications — and to the agency's treatment of individuals whose visa renewals are denied.

"Your 'Notice to Appear' policy for those whose applications and petitions are denied as well as your new policy against foreign students and visitors who unintentionally commit minor status violations will lead individuals eager to contribute to the United States socially and economically into deportation proceedings instead," wrote the lawmakers.

Thursday's letter is the latest in a string of meeting requests from the CHC to top administration immigration officials.

Since the beginning of the Trump administration, CHC heads have made a habit of meeting with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials — USCIS is part of DHS — including secretaries John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, Elaine DukeElaine Costanzo DukeChad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Senate paves way for Trump's next DHS chief Five things to watch at Supreme Court's DACA hearings MORE and Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The 'accidental director' on the front line of the fight for election security MORE.

Still pending is an outstanding CHC invitation, extended last month, to jointly meet with DHS and Health and Human Services officials to discuss family separations and the internment of immigrant minors.

Hispanic Caucus letter on Scribd