CHN: Advocates Oppose Trump Administration Effort to Radically Increase Fees for Aspiring Citizens, Asylum Seekers, and DACA recipients; Comments due by Dec. 30

Last month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a proposed rule that would drastically raise the costs of vital immigration benefits while simultaneously reducing access to benefits for low-income and other vulnerable immigrants. It’s the latest attack by the Trump Administration on the immigrant community.

The proposal would raise the cost of the naturalization fee a whopping 83 percent, from the current cost of $640 to $1,170. The cost for DACA renewals would increase in similar fashion, from $495 to $765.

More ominous is that the proposal would eliminate critical fee waivers for immigrants experiencing severe financial hardship. It would end a long-standing fee waiver program that has kept naturalization, green card renewals and other benefits accessible. These waivers historically have allowed qualifying, low-income and other vulnerable people to maintain their immigration status or take the next step to become a permanent resident or citizen. Terminating this program will put people at risk of potentially losing their documents and becoming subject to deportation.

Immigration advocates say the proposal would make it nearly impossible for low-income and working-class immigrants to apply for naturalization, preventing them from becoming fully integrated and participating members of society. They are urging organizations to submit comments to USCIS by Dec. 30.

You can download the Catholic Legal Immigration Network’s template comment guide here. The guide has background information on the proposed fee schedule and how to comment. It also includes template comments that organizations can customize according to their area of expertise. You can review the paragraphs in the template and pull any that are of particular interest to your organization into the main body of your letter, then customize the language to fit your own organization’s position and experiences.