June 23rd Protest outside the Texas Service Center
Another protest was held at the TSC yesterday, Bill was intending to go but was unable to, mainly due to work commitments and my extended stay. Once again this protest got no real firm answers from the TSC themselves, however it did make more of a splash with the media this time. (Previous hoax protests hurt media attention at the May protest as “Wolf” had been cried too many times before by people who did not really intend to protest, just threatened to and got expedited approval as a result). In this respect the June 23rd Protest seems to have been fairly successful.
Report published by The Dallas Morning News:
Demonstrators decry delay of visas for loved ones
Several protest backlog at Dallas office of immigration bureau
By FRANK TREJO / The Dallas Morning News
It frustrates Mike Little to know that if he lived on the East Coast, he might have been married by now.
But Mr. Little lives in Arlington, and the visa application he submitted for his fiancée more than four months ago to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Texas Service Center still has not been processed. So his fiancée, Caroline Silva, remains in the Philippines, and their wedding plans are on hold.
That’s why Mr. Little joined more than a dozen other U.S. citizens Monday protesting in front of the bureau’s offices off North Stemmons Freeway.
“Right now, my phone bills are $500 a month because of the time I spend talking to the woman I love,” Mr. Little said.
He said he first submitted the visa application in February and received a document noting it would take 60 to 90 days to process.
“We began making plans for our future,” Mr. Little said. “We made wedding plans and started notifying family and friends, and we’ve had to go back and tell everyone that we’re still having to wait.”
What’s even more frustrating, protesters said, is that they have been complaining about this backlog for months. Instead of getting better, they said, the situation appears to have worsened.
Officials for the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees the service centers, said the Texas office is processing applications and petitions received in December.
When the applications were received, the center sent out notices of processing times of 60 to 90 days, said Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for the immigration bureau. But those are estimates, he said.
“Processing times can change due to unforeseeable factors such as mandated security enhancements and the number of applicants,” Mr. Rusnok said.
People who apply today are being notified that the processing times are 100 to 180 days, he said.
“This increase is due primarily to 9-11 security enhancements,” Mr. Rusnok said, adding that the Texas Service Center “always works to minimize times on all its applications and petitions. We have recently hired additional personnel for this purpose.”
He said routine security screening must be done on the new employees before they can begin working.
Mr. Little said his group wants to bring attention to the disparities among the visa-processing centers around the country.
He said the Texas facility is much slower at processing visa applications than the Vermont Service Center, which is perhaps the busiest in the country because it handles applications from the heavily populated Northeast states.
Mr. Little said that at the Vermont center, a fiancée visa is often processed in 30 days or less. Meanwhile, in Texas, he said, it can take upwards of 150 to 200 days.
There are five service centers throughout the United States to process applications and petitions for several kinds of immigration benefits.
The Texas center processes visa petitions and applications for residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Mr. Little said his group has determined that on an average day, the Texas center receives 40 visa applications. and processes 19.
“That means the backlog is not getting better, and it’s actually getting worse every day,” Mr. Little said.
He said that officials have promised to look into the matter and come up with a solution but that the group plans to continue protesting monthly until things change.
Melanie Firestone, a nurse from Dalhart, about 80 miles north of Amarillo in the Panhandle, was among those protesting in front of the immigration building Monday. She held a sign with a picture of herself and her fiancé, David Link of Berlin.
She said she has been waiting for more than 160 days for his application to be processed.
“I am 36 years old, and we would like to start a family before it gets too late for me to have a family,” Ms. Firestone said. “But we can’t even get married.
“My wedding dress is on hold. The people at my job are frustrated because I can’t tell them when I need time off for my wedding.”