Waiting for a year (or more)
From the Sun-Sentinel-
Jaime Soto, of Sunrise, helped almost 500 legal residents file citizenship applications this summer. A looming fee hike was the stick; the opportunity to vote for the next U.S. president was the carrot.Waits for people trying to get their immigration paperwork processed is not news to me. My wife, plus her sister and mother all immigrated to the US from the Philippines. For all three of them, the processing of their citizenship applications took approximately a year. That's from the date they mailed the application to swearing in. Take for instance my wife Leonita, she was sworn in on Jan. 25, 1994. She became eligible to apply for citizenship on Dec. 17th 1992.
But with a huge surge in citizenship applications to be processed, Soto now wonders whether all those people he helped will make it to the ballot box next November. He fears many will still be waiting for citizenship, forced to sit on the sidelines when elections roll around.
This concern has spread across the United States, especially among leaders of Latino groups that launched a campaign last week to attract new citizens to voter rolls. They warn that this summer's flood of citizenship applications is crashing into government delays and may prevent hundreds of thousands of would-be voters from registering in time.
"I feel frustrated," said Soto, president of the ProColombia Unida organization, which guides eligible immigrants through the citizenship process, among other services.
"We worked hard, with few resources," he said, referring to the scramble to help 487 immigrants apply for citizenship in the three weeks leading up to July's hefty fee increase. "If they don't vote, there won't be change."
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported Wednesday evening that it had received 1.4 million applications for citizenship in the fiscal year that ended in September, double the previous year's total. Most of those came in before the fee increase, which boosted processing fees across the board and pushed citizenship fees to $595 per application, compared with the previous $330
I'll be one of the first to congratulate new citizens, but Mr. Soto's stated frustration is either imagined or comes out of ignorance. If anyone has a right to be frustrated, its those US spouses who marry a foreign national and then find themselves having to live separately while Immigration takes care of the I-130 petition. Often these involve US military members, who have to leave their wives behind in South Korea, Japan, Germany or elsewhere as they PCS to their new duty station. I left the Navy in the fall of 1989, four months after marrying Leonita. Leonita had to stay behind in the Philippines till her petition was approved. We didn't see one another for over three months.
So what legal immigrants deserve our sympathy? Those waiting for citizenship or those forced to live separate from their spouse? The answer should be apparent.
Linked to- Perri Nelson, Right Wing Nation, Rosemary, Third World County,