QUEENS — Borough President Melinda Katz and Rep. Gregory Meeks are urging U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to open a field office in downtown Jamaica after its previous Queens location closed, officials said in a statement.
Queens residents — many of them alarmed by the the current anti-immigrant climate "due to the incoming administration" — have been forced to travel to Lower Manhattan or Long Island to address their immigration matters since the agency's Long Island City office was hit with massive flooding two years ago, officials said.
Now Katz and Meeks want to move USCIS into vacant space in the Addabbo Federal Building at 155-10 Jamaica Ave. to bring the office back to the borough, which has 2.3 million residents, at least 48 percent of whom were born abroad.
“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,” Katz said in a statement. “Its optimal location already hosts a federal agency, has vacant space, and has abundant access to mass transit.”
USCIS spokeswoman Katie Tichacek said that the agency “is in the preliminary stages of working with General Services Administration (GSA) to find office space in Queens.”
The General Services Administration is responsible for providing office space to federal employees.
USCIS field offices handle citizenship and green card applications and do not conduct immigration enforcement.
In January 2012, the agency opened its field office in Long Island City, where it served approximately 180 naturalization applications and 130 adjustment of status applications per day, officials said.
However that office closed three years later due to a massive flooding and was relocated as a separate unit to 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan, where it has remained ever since.
Queens residents whose cases can't be processed at the Manhattan unit must travel to Holtsville, Long Island.
“It’s not going to happen tomorrow,” Katz said about the new USCIS office at a meeting with Queens reporters Tuesday. “But we hope that that happens relatively soon.”