AFTER THE DECLINE, THE NUMBER OF AMERICAN CITIZENS INCREASES
More than 754,700 immigrants became U.S. citizens during President Trump’s second year in office.
This is the highest number since 2013, a spokesperson for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently said. Other sources (USCIS in particular) suggest a lower number, but still above 700,000 people.
NEW OFFICES TO MEET IMMIGRANT REQUESTS
The up 2018 figures follow a drop in the number of citizens in fiscal 2017 (-6%), a period that includes the first nine months of the president’s term. Frustration is growing, however, among pro-immigrants who fear that the government’s “extreme filtering” will prevent people from becoming citizens in time to vote in mid-November.
Michael Bars, spokesperson for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ( USCIS ), said the agency was facing a “record and unprecedented” workload with nearly 2 million applications in 2016 and 2017. To cope with the growing number of requests, four new offices – including a larger request processing center which will open soon in Dallas – were inaugurated and ten others enlarged.
Bars, the number of applications pending more than doubled under the Obama administration, from 291,800 in September 2010 to almost 700,000 in early 2017. Almost 9 in 10 citizenship applications were approved on Last year, a rate similar to that of the Obama administration, said Bars. The final figures for the 2018 financial year (from September 30, 2017 to October 1, 2018), are being counted and may increase.
Democrats, local officials and lawyers from Utah to Georgia have asked the Trump administration to reduce its backlog of claims, which stands at 750,000 files. Wait times for citizenship applications have gone from six months under Barack Obama to over ten months now.
TOWARDS FASTER TREATMENT?
In September, several advocacy groups filed lawsuits in the Los Angeles District Court, asking a judge to compel the agency to deliver the late claims. They consider that the “extreme filtering” of the applications for citizenship deprived the residents “of the possibility of participating fully in the civic life and to vote in the next important elections”.
“This is what we call the second wall,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA, one of the groups involved in the trial. “This government is creating so many difficulties for applicants to become US citizens that they have discouraged them. Supporters lambasted Trump for trying to curb legal and illegal immigration even as his immigrant parents-in-law became American citizens at a ceremony this year in New York.
Federal officials say that the government properly examines each application for citizenship and that delays may also occur due to scheduling conflicts or incomplete applications. They also have a heavier workload than before: Requests rose from 783,000 in 2015 to more than 986,000 in 2017, a jump of 25% which, according to some analysts, is partly explained by anti rhetoric – Trump immigrants.
In fiscal 2017, the latest fiscal year for which detailed data is available, the largest number of new citizens was in California, New York, Florida and Texas, according to the Homeland Security report released last month . The Mexicans, whom Trump often targeted in his speeches, were the largest group of new citizens – over 118,000 – followed by Indians and Chinese. Among the states with a high number of immigrants, Massachusetts recorded the largest increase in naturalizations in 2017 with a jump of 13%, followed by 7.3% in Virginia and 3.6% in California.