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Press Release

Chicago Urges USCIS to Reduce Egregious Backlog of Citizenship Applications

By July 30, 2018August 10th, 2018No Comments



July 30, 2018


Sam Yu | | 213-703-0992


Chicago Mayor/NAKASEC Urge USCIS Director to Reduce Egregious Backlog of Citizenship Applications That Create a “Second Wall” for Local Immigrants

Chicago, IL —  Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel is one of nearly 50 U.S. mayors and country executives who delivered a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Lee Francis Cissna today demanding that the agency reduce the backlog of over 753,000 citizenship applications and reduce the time it currently takes to process citizenship applications down to six months, on behalf of a quarter of a million immigrants with pending applications who reside in their cities. At the end of March 2018, Chicago had a backlog of 27,238 citizenship applications with some lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”) waiting as long as 20 months for their applications to be processed.


“This is simply unacceptable. USCIS must be more accountable to the public that it serves and the values that it is supposed to promote,” says Becky Belcore, co-Director of NAKASEC, a member of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), who spearheaded this effort, “Immigrants and eligible LPRs contribute so much to Chicago’s communities, culture, and economy, USCIS must take aggressive action to end the backlog and allow them the opportunity to join as citizens of the nation.”


Since January 2016, the backlog has increased by over 93 percent. In just the last quarter of this fiscal year, the backlog increased by 23,952 applications, reaching the current backlog of 753,352 applications. In 2017, for the second year in a row, USCIS failed to naturalize more LPRs with pending applications than it actually naturalized. At the current rate, it would take USCIS over 25 years to get back down to the Obama administration’s backlog level of 380,639 applications in 2015, and that is assuming no new applications.


The letter requests a comprehensive and detailed plan describing how USCIS will achieve backlog reduction and a commitment to share the plan with mayors across the country. The letter also asks for specifics on previous measures taken by the agency to reduce the backlog and an analysis of why those measures failed.


These growing backlogs mainly impact cities and their USCIS field offices. At the end of March 2018:

  • New York City had a backlog of 81,206 applications;

  • Houston had a backlog of 42,341 applications;

  • Dallas had a backlog of 38,094 applications;

  • San Francisco had a backlog of 27,481 applications;

  • Chicago had a backlog of 27,238 applications;

  • Newark had a backlog of 26,146 applications;

  • Atlanta had a backlog of 21,006 applications;

  • Baltimore had a backlog of 20,485 applications;

  • Seattle had a backlog of 18,707 applications;

  • Miami had a backlog of 17,955 applications;

  • Los Angeles County had a backlog of 17,570 applications;

  • Philadelphia had a backlog of 17,336 applications;

  • St. Paul had a backlog of 16,762 applications;

  • Los Angeles City had a backlog of 16,614 applications; and

  • The District of Columbia had a backlog of 16,564 applications.


Read the full text of the letter: click here.


About National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)

The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is a national multiethnic, multiracial partnership. We represent the collective power and resources of the country’s 37 largest regional immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 31 states. Our members provide large-scale services—from DACA renewal application processing to voter registration to health care enrollment—for their communities, and they combine service delivery with sophisticated organizing tactics to advance local and state policy. We exist to leverage their collective power and expertise for a national strategy. We believe America’s success is rooted in our ongoing commitment to welcoming and integrating newcomers into the fabric of our nation, and to upholding equality and opportunity as fundamental American values.


For NAKASEC photos and video, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@nakasec)

Founded in 1994, the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)’s mission is to organize Korean and Asian Americans to achieve social, economic, and racial justice.  NAKASEC maintains offices in Annandale, Virginia, Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California. NAKASEC has affiliates in Chicago (HANA Center) and Los Angeles and Orange County (Korean Resource Center).