As the Trump administration tries to strengthen immigration controls and move away from family reunification in favor of merit-based immigration, the US plans to close its 21 immigration offices abroad. That might slow down the work of processing family visa applications, foreign adoptions, and citizenship petitions from members of the military, the Washington Post reports. L. Francis Cissna, director of Immigration and Citizenship Services, said in an email Tuesday to employees that he plans to shift that work to US offices and to the State Department. The move could free resources to address backlogs in the US, Cissna wrote, if the State Department agrees to his plan. But mostly, one anonymous official tells the Post, it's a move to save money.
"It sounds like a really dumb idea," a Democratic House member who began in politics as an immigration activist tells the Hill. "We have serious consular needs around the world," adds Pramila Jayapal. President Trump regularly talks about reducing illegal immigration, but this would hinder legal immigration, Politico points out. The offices handle applications from potential immigrants, which includes assisting with emergencies, helping refugees, and providing information in other languages. The offices in places such as New Delhi, Rome, and Port-au-Prince help people who lost their green card and family members of Americans, as well as members of the military. They also investigate fraud. "People around the world depend on these services," Jayapal says. (The US changed the rules for asylum at the Mexico border.)