December 4, 2019/Media

DEVELOPING ICYMI: 80,000 Texas Immigrants Stuck in Naturalization Limbo as 2020 Elections Loom

Austin, TXIn a bombshell reveal by the Houston Chronicle, 80,000 Texas immigrants are stuck in naturalization limbo.

This is the latest in Trump Republicans’ ongoing attacks on immigrants and mixed-status families. Instead of fixing the family backlog and passing comprehensive immigration reform, Republicans see a way to suppress the vote and potentially alter the election in the nation’s biggest battleground state.

From the Houston Chronicle:

  • “As Texas gears up for what could be its most competitive elections in a generation, tens of thousands of would-be voters are caught in limbo, stuck in a deep backlog of immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship.”

  • “Federal immigration officials are taking significantly longer than before to weigh applications, and some cases are now taking a year and a half or more to make it through a process that used to take about six months on average.”

  • “In Texas, the number of immigrants working toward citizenship has skyrocketed, outpacing the national surge. The latest federal numbers show that about 80,000 applications were pending in Texas at the end of June — up from about 50,000 in June 2016.”

  • “The Trump administration, meanwhile, is taking steps that advocates say will make it harder still for millions of eligible immigrants to become citizens. The administration has proposed raising fees to apply for citizenship from $725 to $1,170 for most applicants, while eliminating existing waivers offered to immigrants who can’t afford to pay.”

  • “‘Roughly a third of immigrants eligible for citizenship need the waivers,’ said Melissa Rodgers, program director at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a nonprofit providing legal help to immigrants. ‘This is designed to price out millions of people from U.S. citizenship and to reserve U.S. citizenship for the wealthy only,’ she said.”

  • “But advocates and Democrats say it’s too little, too late. They see the longer wait times and the increased fees as part of a broader effort by Republicans to curb voting by minorities — including the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, as well as state attempts to purge recent immigrants from voting rolls and add voter ID laws — to maintain control in states like Texas, where demographic shifts have long been expected to turn the political tides.”

  • “The delays have already kept some new citizens from voting in recent elections.”

  • “‘It’s hard to believe it’s not deliberate,’ U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, an El Paso Democrat, said of the citizenship backlog and longer wait times. She and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Texas delegation have been hammering USCIS about the delays for months.”

  • “Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said in a letter this spring the problem had reached ‘crisis levels’ and the Government Accountability Office is now investigating the backlog at their urging.”

  • “The processing delays are just the latest hurdle potentially keeping immigrants from voting booths in Texas. State officials earlier this year began a purge of 95,000 people from the voter rolls, who they said appeared not to be U.S. citizens — which the secretary of state later admitted to be a vastly inflated number. Many of the names on that list were people were among the 50,000 each year, on average, who are naturalized in Texas and become U.S. citizens.”

  • “Other obstacles for new voters: Texas is one of the few states where voters still cannot register online. Identification is required at the polls, but college student IDs are not accepted. And voters must register to vote 30 days ahead of an election — even as nearly half of the states in the nation now allow them to register on election day.”

  • “Kareem Alaskary, a 25-year-old Syrian immigrant studying mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, said it makes sense the Democrats are counting on support from immigrants like him. He said he’s never met an immigrant who would vote for Trump, and while he would ‘never vote based on party … in the times we’re in right now, I’m definitely going Democrat.’”

  • “‘And to be honest, the other party is making it easier for them to get more votes,’ he said. ‘There’s no specific policy, but everything … whether it’s immigration policy, whether it’s birth control — all of that. Everything they’re pushing for, it’s way too far to the conservative side — which, coming from a very conservative country, I know that’s going backward, not forward.’”

Texas Republicans Will Stop at Nothing to Alter the Election By Stopping Certain Communities from Voting.

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