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USCIS Still Fails to Reduce Growing Backlog of Citizenship Applications Raising Pressure on Eligible Residents to Apply Now

WASHINGTON – Citizenship application backlogs remain at record-level highs while processing delays have increased over last year, showing that streamlining the citizenship process remains a critical issue ahead of the 2020 election.

The newest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data show that compared to last year, the backlog has increased from 734,209 to 738,148. This while the number of overall applications decreased substantially from 986,790 in fiscal year 2017 to 804,803 in 2018.

At the same time, more than 210,000 lawful permanent residents (LPRs) applied for citizenship from July 1 to September 30, 2018, further confirming that immigrants yearn to become part of our nation’s most critical civic traditions.

Delays in processing applications are preventing nearly 740,000 new Americans from becoming citizens, earning higher wages, contributing more taxes, and becoming more civically engaged, including by voting in the 2020 election.

The backlogs – processing delays for citizenship applications that exceed 30 months in some regions and a series of proposed policy changes from USCIS – create a “Second Wall” of barriers to citizenship. Consistent with Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, the “Second Wall’ could result in voter suppression by preventing eligible immigrants from naturalizing and registering to vote in the 2020 election.

These barriers continue despite growing public calls to reduce the bureaucratic backlog: Congress announced hearings on the issue, over 50 congressional members demanded answers for the delay, nearly 50 mayors and county executives are calling for accountability, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is holding hearings. At the same time, litigation on the matter proceeds in federal court.

In response, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), our member organizations and partners are calling on all eligible immigrants to apply for citizenship as soon as possible. Through outreach, education, citizen workshops, and legal assistance, our goal is to mobilize one million people to apply for naturalization so that they get through the process in time to raise their voices and vote. #OneMillionby2020