Gridlock: Automatic Agency Budget Cuts to Affect DHS and DOS Operations N

Now that the unimaginable, automatic across-the-board budgets cuts are effective, both the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the Department of State (“DOS”) have opined on the potential, long term impact of the cuts on their agencies’ operations.   In a cost saving move, DHS has just released hundreds of low priority immigration detainees who have either been held on civil immigration violations, or have been convicted of minor crimes and are in removal proceedings.  Because the benefits agency of DHS, the United States Citizenship and Services (“USCIS”) operations are fee based, case adjudications may be less impacted than other DHS operations.  Long term cut effects may involve longer lines at TSA airport checkpoints, longer border crossing lines at the U.S.- Mexico and U.S-Canadian borders, and longer cargo inspection times.  The DOS has expressed concern for increased visa delays owing to fewer officers adjudicating visa applications despite the DOS’ recent focused efforts to shorten visa adjudication time periods.  The impacts of these cuts will likely grow over time if there is no new legislation to modify them.  Employers and foreign national visa applications should be mindful of likely increased frustration with DHS and DOS processing overall, perhaps in unlikely ways.