By Associated Press - Wednesday, July 1, 2020

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) - Vermont U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said Wednesday looming furloughs at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services center in St. Albans would idle 1,111 workers on Aug. 3.

Speaking on the floor of the Senate in Washington, Leahy said the Vermont furloughs would be part of 13,350 nationwide caused by a $1.2 billion budget shortfall in the agency that handles citizenship issues.

“Furloughs would not only disrupt the processing of immigration benefits and American citizenship and other critical services provided by USCIS, but will cause unnecessary hardship on thousands of federal employees and federal contractors, and come at a time when our nation is already dealing with record job losses,” Leahy said.

The agency is funded by fees it charges to people who apply to live or work in the country. Revenue was in decline under the Trump Administration, which has imposed a number of immigration restrictions. The agency says COVID-19 caused it to drop by half.

Leahy urged the Senate to begin negotiations on another COVID-19 relief bill to cover the shortfall.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said Wednesday he was unaware of the size of the looming furlough in St. Albans, but said it would be another blow to the state’s economy.

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