As the pandemic drags on immigrants are faces on multiple fronts with challenges. There are delays caused by staffing and social distancing. And unfortunately outside of the immigration system Latinos are being hit the hardest in urban areas like Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that “COVID-19 has been devastating for everyone, but in the United States, there’s one demographic hit particularly hard: Latinos. According to the California Department of Public Health, Latinos make up about 39% of the state’s population but nearly half of all cases and 45% of all deaths. A perfect storm of factors made Latinos especially vulnerable to the coronavirus: Multigenerational households. Crowded neighborhoods. Essential jobs that required us to show up in person. Vaccine hesitancy among too many.” LA Times Podcast January 14, 2022. Further oppressing this community are the immigration delays caused by Covid 19.
Consulates through out the world were essentially closed for over a year and now have a tremendous back log in an already over burdened system. Interviews at Field Office have been up and running for a while however social distancing demands and staffing issues have slowed that process as well. Particularly hard hit are asylum offices through out the country. Already a tremendously over burdened agency, they had a five year back log before the pandemic, interviews per day in Los Angeles have dropped from high double digits to a fraction of that.
Immigration court has also been severely impacted. For a good part of a year the court was virtually shut down. Now operations have resumed however with a very limited calendar. Judges do not appear in courtrooms with applicants but sit in a neighboring room and appear on televideo. This cuts the available real estate in the court house in half which has a concurrent delaying affect.
In addition, there is the ripple affect from all the previous administrations Covid travel bans which have compounded the backlog at consulates and USCIS Field Offices.
Some lawyers recommend asking for expedites, claim emergencies or special situations. This is, in our opinion, misleading for intending immigrants as such “short cuts” are extremely unlikely and tend to create false hopes.
Patience more than ever is the watch word for immigration to the United States.