Coronavirus pandemic impact on U.S. immigration system

DELMARVA – Immigration attorney Eduardo Gonzalez says the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the U.S. immigration system.

“It’s been devastating for the immigration system because the system was already backed up like crazy,” said local immigration attorney Eduardo Gonzalez.

“It was already super congested,” said Gonzalez.

He says there have been fewer people reviewing immigration cases.

On top of that, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suspended all in-person services at its offices for months to help slow the spread of the virus, but that’s increased delays.

“Just the fact that these centers were closed for a good portion of time, so a citizenship case that before used to take only four or five months now can take nine to ten months,” said Gonzalez.

“Some of these marriage petitions that take 18 months, can now take years,” said Gonzalez.

Some community advocates say many immigrants are uncertain about their immigration process, which could potentially delay the work that’s being done for the individual case.

“People call in and say am I still able to renew my green card? Or am I still able to apply to become a citizen?” said Matthew Peters, executive director of the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center.

“I’m I still able to renew this work permit?” said Peters.

But immigrant experts say these added wait times are just another obstacle for immigrants and that it’s important they not lose hope and continue pushing.

“It’s very difficult I think for people to have the courage to ask some questions, but that’s the most important thing to do,” said Peters.

Overall, immigration experts say the pandemic hasn’t made it easier for immigrants to stay in the country and all they can do is help make sure these families get the attention they need.

Immigration attorneys say they are also concerned about the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services furloughing thousands of its employees this year, which could cause even more delays.

Categories: Coronavirus, Delaware