USCIS is processing naturalization applications at a slower rate than usual. That means that many persons who had expected to be able to vote this November might not be able to do so.
The Coronavirus pandemic has contributed to the delays, but the Trump Administration had slowed down the process well before 2020. In 2016, under President Barack Obama, the naturalization process averaged 5.6 months. President Trump became president in January 2017. By 2018, the average processing time was 10.3 months.
USCIS maintains that when they reopened field offices in June 2020, they focused on conducting naturalization oath ceremonies, and by the end of July 2020 they cleared the backlog of ceremonies. But overall, July 2020 had only about one-twelfth of the number of naturalization ceremonies that typically occur in a month.
Although USCIS might have “cleared the backlog” in ceremonies of persons already approved for citizenship, the truth is, USCIS continues to delay the processing of many persons still stuck in the naturalization application process. There are currently more than 700,000 people waiting for their naturalization interviews.
One research group estimates that the naturalization delays will mean that nearly 400,000 persons will not be able to vote.
Diego Iñiguez-López of the National Partnership for New Americans states, “It’s part of the larger anti-immigrant agenda that the Trump administration has pursued over the last few years. Keep immigrants feeling unwelcome, keep them afraid, keep them intimidated, and keep them away from knowing and asserting their rights, including their right to vote.”