NPNA Report: Building a Second Wall

USCIS Backlogs Preventing Immigrants from Becoming Citizens


Tearing Down the Second Wall – Ending USCIS’s Backlog of Citizenship Applications and Expanding Naturalization

Read NPNA’s Latest Report Here

Read the Mayors’ Letter Submitted to USCIS on Monday, July 30th 

In the last year, over 925,000 people applied for citizenship in the United States
. For many, this was years after coming to this country in search of a better life, becoming an integral part of communities across the nation, learning English, working hard, and contributing to their families and the economy. The right to naturalize is a right as old as the nation itself and was envisioned by its founders, created by the Constitution, and codified by federal law. It has also long contributed to the diversity, richness, and strength of the nation.

Unfortunately, since the Trump administration took control of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency that processes citizenship applications, the backlog of pending naturalization applications has skyrocketed to 729,400, with processing rates reaching as high as 20 months. The newest data from USCIS represents a 87.59% increase above the backlog of 388,832 applications, on December 31, 2015, during the administration of President Obama.

Read NPNA’s Latest Report and breakdown of USCIS FY2018 Q1 data to find out how the backlogs are affecting your state and city.

In response to the increasing backlog, NPNA and our partners in the Naturalize NOW Campaign are launching a national campaign, in conjunction with the release of this report update, to reduce the backlog and the waiting time for USCIS to process applications to six months, consistent with past practice, and to encourage naturalization for the millions of eligible LPRs.

To achieve these objectives, NPNA and the Naturalize NOW Campaign partners are:
  1. Building a coalition of elected officials, community partners, labor unions, faith institutions and other stakeholders to demand a reduced wait time for naturalization applications;
  2. Recruiting a growing group of Congressional members to inquire and apply scrutiny so that USCIS is accountable to the public;
  3. Filing a Freedom of Information Act request to increase transparency within the agency;
  4. Facilitating and uniting Mayors, cities, and community-based organizations in order to increase naturalization events and other efforts; and
  5. Continuing to analyze and report on USCIS data on the backlog of citizenship applications.

Join these efforts by adding your organization to our sign-on letter to USCIS Director Cissna, demanding aggressive action to reduce the backlogs and return to the six months application wait time:

Elevate these efforts and your participation through Communications – Tools Below:

For more information on this campaign, reach out to Diego Iñiguez-López at

FEBRUARY 2018 REPORT UPDATE: Naturalization Backlogs Double in Two Years

In just the last two years, a record setting 1,957,384 immigrants in the U.S. have applied to naturalize and become U.S. citizens. However, in the same period, the backlog of lawful permanent residents waiting for their citizenship applications to be processed increased from 367,009 to 734,209, a shocking 100.05% increase in the number of pending applications in two years. The exploding citizenship backlogs of the Trump administration have become a “Second Wall” that prevents lawful permanent residents from becoming voting U.S. citizens.

Read NPNA’s Report Update and breakdown of new USCIS data to find how the backlogs are affecting your state and city.

February 5th Report Updates:

Building a Second Wall

On October 27, 2017, National Partnership for New Americans released our NPNA Report: Building a Second Wall, USCIS Backlogs Preventing Immigrants from Becoming Citizens detailing 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.

Key Report Findings:

Despite the nationwide coordinated nonpartisan efforts led by the Naturalize NOW Campaign and it’s broad range of stakeholders and coalition partners, the report shows 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.

Our 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 and we call on Congress to investigate why these delays are occurring and recommends providing USCIS with a special funding allocation to address their application backlog challenges.

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.

The findings of this report were covered in the New York Times story “Citizenship Applications Surge as Immigration Talk Toughens”.


NPNA is harnessing the collective power and resources of the country’s 37 largest regional immigrant rights organizations in 30 states.

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