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]." 

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 CastroThe exhaustion of Democrats' anti-Trump delusions Juan Williams: Democrats finally hit Trump where it hurts Texas Democrats tap Joaquin Castro to deliver key address MORE (D-Texas).

Democratic Reps. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoCongressional Hispanic Caucus calls for answers on Mississippi ICE raids Congressional Hispanic Caucus members call for diversity within the Fed Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument MORE (Ariz.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (Calif.), Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralCongressional Hispanic Caucus calls for answers on Mississippi ICE raids Congressional Hispanic Caucus members call for diversity within the Fed Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE (N.Y.), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarLatino Texas lawmakers condemn governor for 'dangerous' tweets about immigrants Gabby Giffords participating in gun violence town hall in El Paso following mass shooting Congressional Hispanic Caucus calls for answers on Mississippi ICE raids 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 DukeDOJ to Supreme Court: Trump decision to end DACA was lawful Supreme Court to hear cases on Trump efforts to end DACA Appeals court rules Trump end of DACA was unlawful MORE and Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenDOJ to Supreme Court: Trump decision to end DACA was lawful Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign Trump casts uncertainty over top intelligence role 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