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Utahns Urge USCIS Director to Reduce Backlog of Citizenship Applications That Create a “Second Wall”

Updated: Jul 31, 2018

For Immediate Release: July 30, 2018

Contact: Luis Garza, Comunidades Unidas 801-487-4143 ext. 29

Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County Mayors are two of nearly 50 U.S. mayors and county executives who delivered a letter to U.S. Citizen

ship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Lee Francis Cissna today demanding that the agency reduce the backlog of over 753,000 citizenship applications and reduce the time it currently takes to process citizenship applications down to six months, on behalf of a quarter of a million immigrants with pending applications who reside in their cities.

At the end of March 2018, Utah had a backlog of 5,568 citizenship applications with some legal permanent residents (LPRs) waiting as long as 20 months for their applications to be processed. Utah has experienced the largest increase in application backlog growth in the country which is almost 70% from last years’ figures.

“The practices of this administration are discouraging many Utah families from going through the already complicated naturalization process” said Luis Garza, Executive Director of Comunidades Unidas, a member of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), who spearheaded this effort. “We urge other state and local leaders to demand more efficiency and transparency at USCIS so more Utah families have an opportunity to become US Citizens in a timely manner.”

Since January 2016, the backlog has increased by over 93 percent nationally. In 2017, for the second year in a row, USCIS failed to naturalize more LPRs with pending applications that it actually naturalized. At the current rate, it would take USCIS over 25 years to get back down to the previous administration’s backlog level in 2015, and that is assuming no new applications.

The letter requests a comprehensive and detailed plan describing how USCIS will achieve backlog reduction and a commitment to share the plan with mayors across the country. The letter also asks for specifics on previous measures taken by the agency to reduce the backlog and an analysis of why those measures failed.

“This alarming backlog means that many in our community who started the naturalization process many months ago hoping to vote in the midterm election will not be able to do so.” Said Mayra Cedano, Civic Engagement Program Manager at Comunidades Unidas. “It is preventing full participation and integration of our communities and should be addressed immediately.”

About Comunidades Unidas / Communities United (CU)

Comunidades Unidas / Communities United (CU) is a community-based organization with the mission to empower Latinxs to recognize and achieve their own potential and be a positive force for change in the larger community. Our vision is that every Latinx in Utah becomes healthy, self-sufficient, and active member of the community. Founded in 1999 by a group of Latina women, CU is now at the forefront of the immigrant rights movement in the state of Utah and currently provides direct services to more than 5,000 individuals per year while maintaining our grassroots connection with our community. Our initiatives are focused on: Healthy Families, United Families!

About National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)

The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is a national multiethnic, multiracial partnership. We represent the collective power and resources of the country’s 37 largest regional immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 31 states. Our members provide large-scale services—from DACA renewal application processing to voter registration to health care enrollment—for their communities, and they combine service delivery with sophisticated organizing tactics to advance local and state policy. We exist to leverage their collective power and expertise for a national strategy. We believe America’s success is rooted in our ongoing commitment to welcoming and integrating newcomers into the fabric of our nation, and to upholding equality and opportunity as fundamental American values.

Contact: Luis Garza, Comunidades Unidas 801-487-4143 ext. 29


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