National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


Naturalization Delays: A Critical Need For Congressional Oversight

January 18, 2008

Addressing Barriers to Citizenship for America’s Immigrants

Washington, DC – Today, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and Immigration Law, chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), holds a hearing on “Naturalization Delays:  Causes, Consequences and Solutions.” The following is a statement by Douglas Rivlin, Communications Director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant advocacy group in Washington.

It is Congress’ duty to provide critical oversight to make sure agencies managing our immigration system are doing their jobs efficiently.  In recent months, there has been an almost exclusive focus on whether the Department of Homeland Security is sufficiently enforcing our immigration laws. Little notice has been taken of the poor planning and bureaucratic delays that have led to yet another alarming backlog of citizenship applications.

It should have surprised no one that sustained political attacks on immigrants, ratcheting up all manner of enforcement, astronomic fee increases, and an approaching national election would create a surge in citizenship applications.  But the wholly unprepared United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now says there is an 18-month backlog in processing those applications. 

If USCIS does not successfully address the problem, immigrants who applied to be citizens back in July of last year may not be able to vote in November.  America should be embracing those who want to become citizens, not erecting barriers to achieving this worthy goal. 

We commend the subcommittee for holding this important hearing to get to the bottom of this key failure of our government to provide efficient and timely service.

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