New Report Shows Record Spike in US Citizenship Applications, Revealing Unprecedented Processing Backlogs
Lawful Permanent Residents in Pursuit of American Dream Disgracefully Delayed by a “Second Wall”, Left Hanging in Limbo for Unreasonable Periods of Time
Washington, D.C. - A new report by the National Partnership for New Americans, Building a Second Wall: USCIS Backlogs Preventing Immigrants from Becoming US Citizens details the sad and disgraceful state of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing backlogs, highlighting two remarkable trends in the history of naturalization in this country.
In the time since the 2016 presidential primary elections and now through the Trump Administration’s first year in office - 1,028,647 lawful permanent residents have applied to become U.S. citizens, a 10.5% increase over the same period last year
Currently there are 708,638 pending applications, an increase of 35.23% in the backlog of pending applications over last year and a 77% increase in the last two years
The release of these national findings comes on the heels of a recent New York Times exclusive, exposing these irresponsible, heart-crushing delays in processing, while showcasing the pride, resilience, and human spirit of many of these families caught in processing limbo.
Despite the nationwide coordinated nonpartisan efforts led by the Naturalize NOW Campaign and its broad range of stakeholders and coalition partners, the report exclaims that such massive backlogs are contributing to the formation of an added barrier and institutionalization of a ‘Second Wall’, that will undoubtedly delay families from permanently protecting their loved ones. But even more critical still is how this Administration’s perceived ‘slow-walking’ of these citizenship applications will delay long time immigrants, from their much anticipated entry to the ballot box.
Angelica Salas, Executive Committee Member, National Partnership for New Americans and Executive Director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights said, “While the persistent attacks from President Trump and his Administration have attempted to demean, criminalize, and dehumanize immigrants, our efforts to encourage those who qualify to become U.S. citizens continues because this is our America too. The fact that large numbers of immigrants continue to apply to become full participants in our democracy is a good omen of great things to come for our country. We trust and will work hard to ensure the Trump Administration does not build a 'Second Wall' to keep eligible immigrants from becoming voting U.S. citizens.”
Ben Monterroso, Executive Director, Mi Familia Vota said, “The process can now take up to one year, when previously folks could expect to wait no more than 6 months. Despite these slow processing times, we remain steadfast in our commitment to educating our community and supporting them through their application process. We actively remind people that submitting their applications is precisely what gets them one step closer to having their voice be heard in a big way - by casting their vote in the next elections.”
“The good news here is that so many see past the meanness and smallness of the current administration,” said Rocio Saenz, President of iAmerica Action, “to the deeper values that bind us as Americans and the continued promise of the American Dream—We welcome them one and all as fellow citizens.”
The report offers direct policy recommendations that include urging USCIS to consider prioritizing resources to quickly process naturalization applications and bring the wait time down to six months. The report calls on Congress to investigate why these delays are occurring and recommends providing USCIS with a special funding allocation to address their application backlog challenges.
There are few issues within the immigration fields that are not controversial in the current climate - the case of lawfully present and eligible immigrants who have gone through the time and expense of pursuing the dream of U.S. citizenship should be one of them. All of us should work together to tear down the ‘Second Wall’ of barriers that prevent immigrants from pursuing their dream of U.S. citizenship and rights as equal partners at the table of our democracy.
Executive summary here.
Full report here.
The Naturalize NOW campaign is a nationally coordinated nonpartisan effort to encourage eligible legal permanent residents to take the first step in participating in America's democracy by becoming a U.S. citizen. Through over application assistance events, communications, outreach, and coordinated policy strategies, Naturalize NOW is expanding access to citizenship, civic engagement, and permanent protection for immigrant communities.
Naturalize NOW Campaign partners include National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), Mi Familia Vota, SEIU, iAmerica, United Farm Workers (UFW), UFCW, UNITE HERE, Unidos US, Center for Popular Democracy, Church World Service; NPNA Member organizations Arkansas United Community Coalition (AUCC), CASA, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), Comunidades Unidas (Utah), Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), Global Cleveland, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), Latin American Coalition (LAC), Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), Michigan United, One America, Pennsylvania Immigrant and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), Promise Arizona, Nebraska Appleseed, New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) & partner Justice for Our Neighbors Nebraska (JFON NE)