- More than 500,000 naturalization applications are reported to be under review across all 50 states
- This immense backlog can potentially prevent more than half a million immigrants from voting as American citizens for the presidential election
- If the USCIS is able to process thousands of applications before voting registration deadlines, the additional votes could tip the balance for a candidate in battleground states
The tense political climate of the presidential elections has thrown immigration issues into the national spotlight, motivating thousands of U.S. residents to apply for citizenship in order to vote this year. A swell in state level applications at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), however, has led to immense backlogs that could prevent over half a million immigrants to cast a vote as American citizens on November 8.
Backlog of Naturalization Applications Might Prevent Thousands from Casting Votes
At the end of June 2016, a total of 524,014 naturalization applications were reported to be under review across all 50 states. Although the number does not represent the exact number of applications in the backlog, a review by USCIS reveals a 31.2% growth in pending applications from this period to the third quarter of fiscal year 2015.
According to USCIS spokesperson Jim McKinney, the agency has “experienced a significant increase in applications and petitions across the board”, but states that the agency is on track to meet its goal of processing applications between five to seven months. McKinney adds that discrepancy in processing times is due to geography and capacity in states.
NBC News found that the USCIS has experienced similar backlogs for at least the past three presidential election cycles.
Thousands of Votes That Could Tip the Scales in Battleground States
If the USCIS successfully processes the pending naturalization applications prior to voting registration deadlines, the additional votes could help tip the balance for a presidential candidate in battleground states.
Florida, for example, has more than 66,100 pending applications since June 30. Those thousands of votes could make the difference in a state that is always teetering between turning blue or red.
The USCIS has responded to the backlog by sending staff to offices experiencing increased workloads. The agency has also authorized overtime for certain offices to try and speed up the processing times.
If you would like to know more about how to apply for naturalization, contact Lyttle Law Firm today. Call us at (512) 215-5225 to schedule a consultation. You can also check out our website for a list of our immigration services.