Two interesting NYT articles on citizenship this week
An Artistic Approach to Becoming a U.S. Citizen
By CHRISTOPH FUHRMANS and SCOTT BLUMENTHAL
A program by the New-York Historical Society uses art to help green card holders prepare for the naturalization test.
Citizenship Applications in the U.S. Surge as Immigration Talk Toughens
It's a long article, but here are some excerpts:
As Mr. Trump campaigned on promises of a border wall and strict crackdowns on immigration, 2016 became the busiest year in a decade for naturalization applications. But this year, the number of applications is on track to surpass that of last year’s, while a perennial backlog continues to pile up. It is the first time in 20 years that applications have not slipped after a presidential election, according to analysis by the National Partnership for New Americans, an immigrant rights coalition of 37 groups.
And with an unrelenting stream of hard-line rhetoric and enforcement in the news, as well as a swell of citizenship drives and advocacy, there are no signs the trend is abating.
In a year when the government has bolstered enforcement, backed curbing legal immigration and rescinded a program that protects undocumented youth from deportation, even a green card is not enough in the eyes of hundreds of thousands of immigrants applying for naturalization to protect themselves from removal and gain the right to vote.
“The draw of U.S. citizenship becomes more powerful when you have the political and policy environment that you have right now,” said Rosalind Gold, senior policy director at the Naleo Educational Fund, a national bipartisan Latino group.
About 8.8 million people are eligible to become American citizens, meaning they have been lawful permanent residents, or had a green card, for at least five years.
In the first three quarters of the 2017 fiscal year — from Oct. 1, 2016, through June 30, the latest period for which data is available — 783,330 people filed applications, compared with the 725,925 who filed during the same months a year earlier. The current figure is well on pace to surpass the 971,242 who applied in the 2016 fiscal year.
With the surge of applications, the processing backlog has ballooned. There were 708,638 pending applications at the end of June, a steady rise from 522,565 at the end of the 2016 fiscal year and 291,833 in 2010. The average wait time has doubled, to 8.6 months from four months a few years ago, with applicants in cities like Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas and Miami waiting a year or longer.