Tearing Down the Second Wall: Ending USCIS’s Backlog of Citizenship Applications and Expanding Access to Naturalization for Immigrants: Third Addendum to Second Wall Report

Diego Iñiguez-López
Date of Publication: 
July, 2018
Source Organization: 
National Partnership for New Americans

The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) released a third addendum to its Building a Second Wall report, which documents the growing backlog of naturalization applications since the start of the Trump presidency. The author suggests this backlog may be a “critical tool in the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrant communities” -- a tool designed to delay or deny citizenship to eligible immigrants.

According to the latest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data, processing time for naturalization applications in the first quarter of FY2018 was upwards of 20 months, resulting in an almost 90 percent increase since December of 2015 in the number of backlogged applications. States with the highest number of backlogged applications were California, Texas, New York and Florida. During this time, the number of applications received decreased nationally by 12 percent, but USCIS processed 27 percent fewer applications. Some states have also seen spikes in denials of applications. In Alabama, for instance, denials increased by 310 percent in the first quarter of FY2018.

Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who have pending naturalization applications continue to be vulnerable to removal, deportation and changing immigration regulations in adjudication procedures. In addition, a new USCIS office was established to expedite stripping some naturalized immigrants of their citizenship, previously an extremely rare occurrence. According to the report, these efforts by USCIS and the Trump administration mark a shift from focusing on granting immigration benefits to reassessing and deporting lawful immigrants. Furthermore, according to the report, the reduced number of LPRs who are becoming naturalized citizens serves as a powerful tool in voter suppression. In response, NPNA and its partners launched a national campaign that seeks to reduce processing time to six months by building a coalition of elected officials to hold USCIS accountable and by continuing to report on this important issue. (Mia Fasano for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Iñiguez-López, D. (2018). Tearing Down the Second Wall: Ending USCIS's Backlog of Citizenship Applications and Expanding Access to Naturalization for Immigrants (Third Addendum to Second Wall Report). National Partnership for New Americans. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B82AwIa7WIa_RmtxM3BUZEtOcV9vdVdwVU85U2hwbHd1QmVj/view