Friday, June 5, 2020
The trend of backlogged naturalization applications that has been reported in ImmProf blog previously is being exacebated by covid-19 closures of the USCIS. When the agency reopens this week, it will be sending notices of cancelled ceremonies that require rescheduling; more than 100,000 will be impacted. The agency has sought a $1.2 billion bail out from Congress because of its shortfall in basic operating funds. Without a plan and the capacity to catch-up, many in the queue will not be able to vote in the 2020 elections or may face deportation.
Immigration advocates are seeking for USCIS to permit virtual ceremonies or waive the live oath that is typically required for naturalization. Others are seeking for federal courts, who have the ability to naturalize as well, to adapt their format for granting citizenship. For example, Harvard Law school's immigration clinic is working with Massachusetts federal courts to come up with a plan.
For more discussion of the citizenship backlog, see Citizenship Delayed (a report of the Colorado Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Right that I worked on) and NPNA's campaign to naturalize and register immigrants.