Federal Court Judge Blocks USCIS Fee Hike Planned for October 2 #announcements #records #usa
Jan Meisels Allen
On September 29, 2020 US District Court Judge Jeffrey White of the Northern District of California found “serious questions” as the legitimacy of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) fee increase because the acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security was not properly appointed to the position. The final rule in its entirety was stayed pending final adjudication. Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Wolf and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of DHS Cuccinelli and all persons under their direction are enjoined from implementing or enforcing the Final Rule or any part of the rule. The IAJGS Public Records Access Alert published about the USCIS final rule on July 31, 2020 and was published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2020. While the final regulation addressed genealogy fees, the majority of the regulation was about citizenship application fees and qualifications for a fee waiver. Judge White was appointed to the Federal Court by President George W. Bush.
Judge White found the plaintiffs met their burden because the federal government did not disclose data and relied on unexplained data or outright ignored data in the record. Further Judge White noted Homeland Security has not been gathering data over the years on price increases and how those would impact applications for immigration benefits. White also agreed with the plaintiff’s argument that Homeland Security’s reliance on statistics or data on prior fee increases is not an accurate comparison because the latest proposed fee increase combines price hikes with “a correspondent decrease in the ability to obtain waivers of fees, a variable not relevant to past fee changes.”
The agency failed to show why it needed to make such a significant departure from past practice on asylum fees, Judge White found.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern district of California- San Francisco as that is where Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s principal place of business is in San Francisco, California, and East Bay Sanctuary Covenant’s principal place of business is in Berkeley, California. Other plaintiffs are also located in California.
The ruling may be read at: https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/ImmigFeeHike-PI.pdf
To see previous postings about the USCIS and the fee increases, go to the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alert at: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/private/records-access-alerts/. You must be registered to access the archives. To register go to: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/listinfo/records-access-alerts and follow the instructions to enter your email address, full name and which genealogical organization with whom you are affiliated You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized.
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee