Naturalization ceremonies and interviews have stopped due to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office closures and administration policies. At least tens of thousands of immigrants have been prevented from becoming American citizens. Given that solutions to the problem are obvious, the USCIS actions raise questions about whether the Trump administration’s objective is to slow down the pace of naturalization before the 2020 election.
A new report provides a perspective on the current naturalization picture for immigrants. “On March 18, 2020 – due to the coronavirus pandemic – USCIS stopped doing these interviews and ceremonies,” according to a study by Boundless Immigration, a technology company that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship. “This delay has already left well over 100,000 future Americans in limbo. These would-be citizens have already made it through most of the naturalization process. Now they must wait, perhaps indefinitely, before they can become full citizens and gain the right to vote in the 2020 election. If USCIS does not resume interviews and oath ceremonies using remote methods appropriate for the present emergency, the number of disenfranchised citizens-in-waiting will continue to pile up.”
The numbers are adding up. “Boundless did the math, and estimated that 2,100 immigrants will run out of time to vote each day that USCIS offices remain closed,” according to the study. “The number increases for each month the COVID-19 shutdown remains in effect.”
There appears to be no reason why USCIS is not conducting naturalization ceremonies using video conferencing technology, as so much business is being conducted these days. “People who need to complete their citizenship oath ceremony are no different from people who need to complete their oath of office for a position in the current administration – the latter is happening via video conference right now but the former is not,” said Doug Rand, co-founder and president of Boundless, in an interview.
“People who need to complete their naturalization interviews are no different from people who take online proctored exams, which was already happening millions of times long before COVID-19,” said Rand. “The entire country is making do with video conferencing right now, why can’t USCIS?”
By Stuart Anderson for FORBES
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