Sens. Marshall, Moran and Rep. Mann Call on USCIS to Expand Services in Southwest Kansas
(Washington, D.C., May 25, 2021) – U.S. Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. and Jerry Moran as well as U.S. Representative Tracey Mann sent a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Acting Director Tracy Renaud and District 15 Director David Douglas asking them to consider expanding citizenship and immigration services in southwest Kansas. In part, the letter reads:
“… The demand for citizenship and immigration services in this region of our state far outpace the services provided by the USCIS District 15 field offices in Kansas City, MO and Wichita, KS… The population of the Southwest region of Kansas is comprised of a uniquely high concentration of immigrants… The closest field office in Wichita is, on average, nearly a three and half hour drive from two of the largest cities in Southwest Kansas, while the field office in Kansas City, MO office is more than a six-hour drive… In order to create and maintain an efficient legal immigration system, citizenship and immigration services must be reasonably available.”
May 24, 2021
Ms. Tracy Renaud
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
111 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington DC 20001
Mr. David Douglas
District 15 Director
U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services
9747 NW Conant Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64153
Dear Acting Director Renaud and Mr. Douglas,
We write to ask that you consider expanding citizenship and immigration services in Southwest Kansas. As previous communications have revealed, the demand for citizenship and immigration services in this region of our state far outpace the services provided by the USCIS District 15 field offices in Kansas City, MO and Wichita, KS.
According to the Director of the USCIS Field Office in Wichita, over 50 percent of the patrons seen at their office come from Western Kansas and neighboring states, Oklahoma and Colorado. The population of the Southwest region of Kansas is comprised of a uniquely high concentration of immigrants. In fact, 2019 Census data shows that 9 of the top 10 Kansas counties with the highest percentage of foreign-born people are located in Southwest Kansas. In the three most populated counties in the region, more than 1 in 4 are foreign born. Towns across this region have embraced immigrants as a vital part of the community and workforce, and because of this, the numbers of foreign-born individuals looking to call Southwest Kansas home continues to grow.
To meet this growing need, in 2014 the Wichita Field Office began providing temporary mobile services three times per year in Southwest Kansas, in the cities of Dodge City, Garden City, and Liberal. To date, those services have conducted more than 700 citizenship interviews and 1,800 biometrics appointments, in addition to separate Citizenship ceremonies where more than 300 individuals have been naturalized. These services have proven to be incredibly beneficial, albeit insufficient. Conversations with local government officials, various local employers, and immigrants have revealed that the mobile service appointments are filled quickly and the need far exceeds the temporary services. Furthermore, the mobile services have not included InfoPass appointments, which are in high demand and address urgent cases, such as the death of a family member overseas, residents needing a permit to travel, or an extension of permanent residency.
The limited mobile services available places logistical and financial hardships on individuals in Southwest Kansas that are in need of immigration services. The closest field office in Wichita is, on average, nearly a three and half hour drive from two of the largest cities in Southwest Kansas, while the field office in Kansas City, MO office is more than a six-hour drive. The majority of these immigrants are employed in the agriculture industry, which certainly does not operate within normal Monday through Friday business hours. This forces individuals to take one or two days off work, arrange transportation and childcare, and incur additional expenses to travel to these field offices. In order to create and maintain an efficient legal immigration system, citizenship and immigration services must be reasonably available. We believe these barriers can be eliminated with a field office in Southwest Kansas. The need for these services is so great that one local municipality has offered to provide office space and utilities without charge to USCIS in order to have convenient services for their regional community.
Additionally, the catchment area for this proposed field office would extend beyond the state of Kansas’s borders. Immigrant people the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas, as well as eastern Colorado and New Mexico, would benefit from a field office within a more convenient distance.
We encourage you to give serious consideration to the request for a field office in Southwest Kansas, where services are desperately needed. As you consider, we invite the leadership – both from the headquarters in Washington, D.C. and from the District 15 -to visit the region with us to hear first-hand from both employers and the immigrants who would benefit from a regional field office. We believe the demand would be evident.
Roger Marshall, M.D. United States Senator
Jerry Moran, United States Senator
Tracey Mann, Member of Congress