Nov. 20, 2019 By Kristen Torres
New York Representative Grace Meng has joined forces with other congressional Democrats in an effort to stop the Department of Homeland Security from pursuing plans to hike immigration application fees.
Meng, along with three of her congressional colleagues, penned a letter to the heads of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) demanding that they abandon plans to hike USCIS application fees. Their letter was co-signed by 80 members of Congress.
The Trump administration announced plans to raise the fees for those seeking naturalization, permanent residency and employment authorization — among other fees – late last week.
“These massive increases are outrageous and are yet another case of the Trump administration attacking our immigrant communities,” Meng said in a statement.
The plan would nearly double fees for naturalization: from $725 to $1,170.
Additional fee hikes would affect those looking for permanent residency — raising application fees from $1,220 to $2,195 — as well as renewals for those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), increasing those applications by nearly $300.
“Hiking and implementing additional fees will only create more barriers for immigrants,” Meng said.
According to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, nearly half the population of Queens are immigrants — and a little more than 600,000 are naturalized citizens.
“Immigrants make our nation great, and we will not allow this administration to kick them to the curb,” Meng said. “We will do all we can to stop these increases from going into effect.”
The president’s plan will also get rid of fee waivers for nearly all avenues to citizenship or lawful residency, leaving little options for those seeking financial help.
Representative Meng, alongside U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Norma Torres, also criticized the administration’s decision to shorten the public commentary period on its decision — from 60 to 32 days.
“By allotting only 32 days for comment, the agency is sending the message that it is unconcerned about the impact of its proposal on this country,” reads the letter penned by the representatives.
Representatives Meng, Jayapal and Garcia introduced the New Deal for New Americans Act to congress last month, which would bar the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office from raising fees without congressional approval.