New York legislator with Jamaican roots condemns Trump administration's proposed immigration fee hikes

New York legislator with Jamaican roots condemns Trump administration's proposed immigration fee hikes

Sunday, December 15, 2019

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NEW YORK, United States (CMC) — A New York State legislator with Jamaican roots has strongly condemned the Trump administration's proposed fee increases for immigration services at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), stating that the increases represent the administration's latest attack on immigrant communities.

“As the New York State senator for the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn, I write to express my strong opposition to the proposed increase in the naturalisation application fee (Form N-400), and elimination of fee waivers for various types of citizenship forms, which would have the compound effect of greatly reducing naturalisation and limiting American prosperity,” said Senator Zellnor Y Myrie, whose grandmother hails from Jamaica, in a letter to Samantha Deshommes, chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, USCIS.

“These substantial increases in fees would have a significant impact on the people I represent since, according to census data, 64,184 people in my district are eligible to become naturalised citizens,” added Myrie, whose district in Central Brooklyn predominantly comprises Caribbean immigrants.

“I am alarmed at the devastating effect the proposed 83 per cent increase in the naturalisation fee would have on our community.”

Under this proposal, the fee to file an application for a Certificate of Citizenship for the N-600 would increase by US$530, from its current cost of $640, to US$1,170.

Application renewal fees for Deferred Action for Childhood Action (DACA) recipients would also increase from US$495 to US$765.

In addition, the proposal would eliminate fee waivers for most forms of citizenship applications, “despite the fact that one third of applicants seek fee waivers”, Myrie said.

He also said that the proposal “attacks basic humanitarian rights, as those seeking to apply for asylum would be forced to pay a fee of US$50”.

“This is a blatant attack on our immigrant community and penalises those who come from low-income households,” he said. “Charging ever-higher fees for naturalisation means limiting our potential by preventing many hundreds of thousands of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) from applying for citizenship.”

Myrie pointed to research which, he said, has demonstrated that past naturalisation fee increases have been “a significant barrier to eligible LPRs, and, as a result, the number of immigrants eligible to naturalise has grown to nearly nine million”.

“Naturalisation is important and beneficial to all Americans and to New York State in particular,” he wrote. “When legal permanent resident immigrants are afforded the opportunity to become citizens, they become more able to contribute to their communities and society as a whole. They are afforded greater economic stability through expanded professional opportunities that bring the potential to elevate their income.”

“The process of naturalisation is life changing, and it is in the public's best interest to ensure the naturalisation process is kept financially accessible for the many hundreds of thousands of qualified legal permanent residents,” he added, stating that naturalisation also “helps grow our economy and results in higher tax contributions”.

Myrie said new Americans earn more, are more likely to pursue higher education, and have greater home ownership rates than non citizens.

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