Last year, the GSA announced it planned to move the USCIS office to a location that lacked public transportation options. Since then, Klobuchar, Franken and Ellison have repeatedly pressed GSA and USCIS leaders to find an alternative site with adequate public transportation options. Klobuchar recently introduced legislation – cosponsored by Franken in the Senate and introduced by Ellison in the House – to prevent the act from happening again. The Government Services Accessibility Act would require GSA to verify that the public transit requirement specified in a lease solicitation is met and that public transportation runs regularly throughout the business hours of the building.
"Moving the Twin Cities office to an out-of-the-way location made no sense and would have placed a needless burden on families who need USCIS's services the most," said Klobuchar. "While the proposed relocation should never have gotten this far in the first place, I'm pleased that GSA responded to our calls to restart the process, and I will continue pushing to pass my legislation to prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future."
Franken echoed the senior senator's position.
"Immigration Services helps so many people in Minnesota every year, and we need to make sure that their offices are actually accessible to those they serve," said Franken. "I've been working hard to make sure that the relocated Immigration Services building is in an area convenient to public transit, and I'm very glad the GSA listened to my concerns. As this process continues, I'll keep pressing for our commonsense bill to stop this from happening again."
Ellison said, "I applaud GSA's recent decision to relocate the USCIS St. Paul Field Office to a transit friendly location. The decision to keep the USCIS office in an accessible location reflects GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini's responsive and cooperative leadership. He has assured me he is eager to find a new location that is accessible by public transportation and makes more sense for our community. In the course of my advocacy, I've encountered systemic problems regarding public outreach and input, transparency and communication by the GSA Great Lakes Region office in Chicago. I shared these concerns with Mr. Tangherlini and am confident he will address them. I will continue to remind and encourage GSA and all government agencies to engage with local communities when considering action that will impact the public."
The Government Services Accessibility Act would require the GSA to verify that the building location meets any public transportation distance requirement specified in its lease solicitation and that public transportation runs regularly throughout the normal business hours of the building before entering into a lease. Klobuchar, Franken, and Ellison were also recently joined by several other Minnesota representatives in sending a letter calling on the GSA to halt the proposed move and explore alternatives.