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Report says visa backlog driving migrants to southern border

Immigration Lawyers Association calls on Congress for change
Migrants in San Diego
Posted at 2:07 PM, Nov 23, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A new report from the American Immigration Lawyers Association says visa delays and government inefficiencies are putting pressure on migrants to cross the border illegally when they had legal pathways available.

“The quotas, everything is very antiquated. Last time Congress has updated anything, was back in the 90s, and I always joke, I used to have a perm, and I was in elementary school when that happened,” said San Diego immigration attorney Tammy Lin.

The report from the association says visa delays at the State Department and underfunding are causing massive wait times and putting pressure on migrants to cross the southern border illegally.

In a policy brief released earlier this month, the association shared examples of immigrants who had given up on coming to the U.S. legally.

They include specific examples and stories like a man who was waiting seven and a half years for a visa interview after his mother sponsored him.

The report says a child of an asylum seeker waited more than three years for an immigration interview.

And the policy brief includes a story of a Venezuelan national who was left in limbo while waiting for an interview for a fiancé visa after the embassy in his country closed.

The association says all these people were trying to come to the U.S. legally but ended up crossing the southern border without authorization after giving up.

“These stories demonstrate the very real human costs of consulate backlogs and inefficiencies. More than the human costs, long wait times result in an added burden on the southern border’s infrastructure as well as our asylum system,” the report says.

The association is calling on Congress to allocate appropriate funding for immigration agencies and wants to see staffing beefed up to address backlogs made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State Department didn’t return a request for comment by press deadline.