Updated Jan. 26, 11:31 a.m.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Congressman Gregory Meeks are calling on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to re-open a Queens Field Office that was shut down in 2015.
The office, which was located in Long Island City, handled non-asylum related applications, including citizenship and green card applications. Now the closest field offices are located in Lower Manhattan and Long Island, making it harder for Queens residents to receive services.
Katz is proposing that the field office be located at the Addabbo Federal Building located at 155-10 Jamaica Ave. because of its central location and the vacant space available. The Jamaica building is also home to a U.S. Social Security Administration office.
“Queens is home to over 2.3 million residents, at least 48 percent of whom were born abroad,” Katz said. “Many people – both citizens and non-citizens – are feeling tremendous uncertainty about the future. I’ve long proposed the existing Addabbo Federal Building in Jamaica as an ideal, permanent location for the long-displaced Queens Field Office to enhance customer service and better meet demand.”
The 48,000-square-foot office in Long Island City at 22-15 43rd Ave. opened in 2012 as a way to “provide services where our customers live,” the USCIS first said when it opened. In January 2015, after the building witnessed flooding from Hurricane Sandy, the office was temporarily closed and re-located to 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan.
The Queens Field Office oversaw an average of 180 naturalization applications and 130 adjustment of status applications per day when it was in service.
Katherine Tichacek, spokesperson for USCIS said the agency is in the process of finding a suitable office space in the borough.
“USCIS is in the preliminary stages of working with General Services Administration (GSA) to find office space in Queens,” she said.
Meeks, who said many of his constituents expressed concerned about their immigration status after the election of President Donald Trump, represents the 5th Congressional District. The district spans Jamaica, the Rocakways, and parts of Valley Stream and Elmont.
“My office has helped thousands of constituents with their immigration matters,” Meeks said. “Yet, never before have my constituents shown as much concern about their immigration status due to the incoming administration. Hearing their well-founded concerns, Borough President Katz and I are pressing USCIS to reopen its field office to fulfill this clear need. We believe that families should be well-informed and they deserve comprehensive assistance so they have the best opportunity to keep their families together and whole.”
Meeks propose the Addabbo Federal Building as an alternative in March 2016 on a site visit with the U.S. General Services Administration. Katz wrote a letter in April 2016 to USCIS headquarters to also formally recommend that an office in the building be converted into a Queens Field Office.