The lawsuit was prompted by more than 730,000 pending applications.
A case of mistaken identity put 40-year-old Alejandro Godinez Flores through a legal nightmare with immigration services and has prolonged his wait to become a US citizen.
After 28 years in the United States, Flores finally decided last year to apply for citizenship.
That’s when things went wrong. His naturalization application pinged for an outstanding warrant on drug possession for someone with the same name, he said.
Flores was eventually cleared when a expert examined Flores’ fingerprints and those on the arrest warrant.
“The one they had on record and mine, and he said it wasn’t me.” Flores said. “So they gave me a clearance.”
Now Flores is waiting anxiously for his application, a process that should take roughly six months, to be cleared. He has been waiting almost a year and a half and has no idea if or when he might become a US citizen.
Flores is not alone. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has delayed the naturalization process for thousands of applicants, which has prompted The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and many other organizations to file a lawsuit.
Immigration rights organizations filed a lawsuit on Monday against the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) claiming the agency has failed to provide documents that could explain the unprecedented backlog of citizenship applications. The National Partnership for New Americans and nine other immigrant rights groups requested the documents under the Freedom of Information Act in early August.
The pending naturalization applications have skyrocketed to 730,000, an increase of 87 percent since 2015, according to a statement released by California Rep. Judy Chu.
Advocates want to determine the delay in processing the applications and have asked to review documents detailing staffing, budgeting and general policies and practices that might be behind the increased processing time.
The length of time to process applications has increased from an average of six months to 11 months, according to a letter signed by more than 50 Congressional members and delivered to Lee Francis Cissna, the director of immigration services.
By Arlissa Norman and Jasmin Romero for USC ANNENBERG MEDIA
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