USCIS Director Wants American Taxpayers to Pay for Illegal Alien Work Permits

By Robert Law on April 6, 2022

When Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it divided immigration responsibilities between three components: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Like most of the federal government, CBP (border security) and ICE (interior enforcement) are funded through the appropriation of taxpayer dollars. Conversely, USCIS is 97 percent fee-funded, reflecting congressional recognition that those who choose to engage in our legal immigration system should pay for its operation rather than taxpayers.

Appearing on April 6 before the House Appropriations Committee, President Biden’s USCIS Director, Ur Jaddou, revealed that she wants to radically overhaul the way the agency operates. Most of the hearing focused on the enormous backlogs USCIS has for numerous benefit types as well as the Biden administration’s emphasis on “humanitarian” immigration relief. While there is a place for a reasonable level of humanitarian-focused immigration, from a budgetary standpoint it is a fiscal drain. Applications for refugee and asylum are free, while Congress has capped the fee charged for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) at $50, far below the true cost of adjudication. Work permits for illegal aliens, especially DACA recipients, also operate at a loss.

The only way USCIS can offset these subsidized benefits is to overcharge other immigration benefits. By law, USCIS is required to issue a new fee rule every two years that adjusts fees to ensure they cover the true cost of adjudication. USCIS has never complied with this requirement and was operating at a $3 million loss per business day toward the end of the Trump administration. USCIS drafted a fee rule during the Trump administration but it was blocked by activist judges despite fully complying with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and was subsequently abandoned by the Biden administration.

As you have likely concluded, the math doesn’t add up. At the end of last year, I predicted that USCIS would issue a new fee rule that significantly increased the cost of employment-based immigration benefits to make up for the cash shortfall caused by the Biden administration’s prioritization of substantial humanitarian immigration relief. It turns out my prediction was wrong.

Jaddou revealed the administration’s end goal during her testimony. The Biden administration wants to keep humanitarian immigration high without increasing fees. To accomplish this, Jaddou pleaded with the committee to appropriate taxpayer funds specifically to cover the cost of all the “free” adjudications, requests that are typically filed by illegal aliens. It was one thing to change the USCIS mission statement, but Jaddou wants to essentially “have her cake and eat it too” by having American taxpayers directly bear the financial burden of the Biden administration’s open-borders, high-refugee-level policies while artificially keeping the cost of legal immigration benefits low to appease the immigration bar and business community.

The American people are already paying a steep price for the Biden administration’s refusal to enforce our immigration laws. It would add insult to injury to force them to pay for it out of their own pocketbooks as well.