ST. ALBANS, VT- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is a federal agency within the Homeland Security Department that plans to furlough more than 13,000 employees on August 3rd. More than 1,100 of those employees are Vermonters.
Vermont USCIS employees received furlough letters at the beginning of the month and Congressman Peter Welch feels that something needs to be done immediately.
“This proposed furlough is unnecessary, and it is unjust, and we are determined to resist this and keep these people working,” said Welch.
USCIS notified congress in May that it was expecting a $570 million budget shortfall this fiscal year due to COVID-19, and that workers would need to be furloughed.
Since then, senate democrats like Vermont’s Patrick Leahy have learned USCIS will actually end the fiscal year on September 30th with a *surplus instead.
“So, there’s no need to have the furlough now. They do have an expected shortfall in fiscal year 21 and Senator Leahy is committed to working on it,” said Senator Leahy’s State Director John Tracy.
Congressman Welch said he is working with Senators Leahy and Bernie Sanders to take action. He is also co-sponsoring legislation that will give USCIS more funding.
“We would need both Senator Leahy’s effort to apply that surplus to continue making payments and we would need our legislation in the house to supplement funding as this continues,” said Welch.
According to the president of the labor union the Vermont USCIS workers belong to, the furloughs would be detrimental to not only the employees and their families, but the economy as a whole.
“Expanded unemployment is ending and no second stimulus check is on the way. If we do not have these local jobs, there are not adequate sustaining jobs to replace them in Franklin County,” said Kelly Robtoy.
Vermont is home to one of five U.S Citizen and Immigration Service Centers in the country with most employees working in St. Albans and Essex.