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Homeland insecurity watch: The naturalization stampede

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 7, 2008 12:56 PM

Last month, instead of putting more manpower and resources into the problem and making secure adjudication a priority, DHS simply dropped criminal background checks in order to clear massive green card application backlogs.

Now, Latinos are clamoring to get their naturalization applications approved in time to vote for the November elections. They’ve taken the Bush administration to court.

What’s that sound I hear? Yes, the sound of more background checks being tossed over the bridge:

A lawsuit filed Thursday in a federal court in New York by Latino immigrants seeks to force immigration authorities to complete hundreds of thousands of stalled naturalization petitions in time for the new citizens to vote in November.

The class-action suit was brought by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund on behalf of legal Hispanic immigrants in the New York City area who are eager to vote and have been waiting for years for the federal Citizenship and Immigration Services agency to finish their applications. The suit demands that the agency meet a nationwide deadline of Sept. 22 to complete any naturalization petitions filed by March 26.

Latino groups hope to summon the clout of the federal courts to compel the Bush administration to reduce a backlog of citizenship applications that swelled last year. According to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, more than one million citizenship petitions were backed up in the pipeline by the end of December, the majority from Latino immigrants.

Despite protests over the delays from lawmakers, Latino groups and immigrant advocates, the immigration agency is currently projecting wait times of 16 months to 18 months to process the petitions.

“The reality is that large numbers of Latinos will not be able to vote in the elections because of these delays,” said Cesar A. Perales, president of the defense fund. “Now the world will know that the Latino community expects the Bush administration to get this done on time.”

Christopher S. Bentley, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, said he could not comment on pending litigation.

“Our commitment is to work through the naturalization applications as quickly as we can without compromising the security and integrity of the process,” Mr. Bentley said.

Without compromising the security and integrity of the process.

Waaay too late for that.

***

Flashback: Read my “Clear the damn backlogs, first” memo to Washington from last June.

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Categories: Adjudication, Catch-And-Release, Sanctuary Cities, Southern Border

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