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“Some people very well may have to do the very same thing in pursuit of the benefits our country provides them. That hard-earned money has to be appropriately spent,” he said.

USCIS is funded mostly by fees immigrants pay to process their applications. The Bush administration pushed through a series of fee increases to improve the agency’s facilities and quality of service, but immigrant rights groups objected, saying the prices were too high.

Mr. Mayorkas said those fees will be reviewed and he won’t rule out lowering or raising them.

Still, Mr. Noorani at the National Immigration Forum said he expects Congress to try to reduce those fees when it takes up immigration.

“Our expectation is that we’re going to see immigration reform by early 2010 and part of immigration reform is going to be an acknowledgment by the nation that we have to invest in immigrants just as much as they’re investing in us,” he said.