80,000 Texas immigrants stuck in naturalization limbo as 2020 elections loom
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. The last big fee increase was in 2007, when they jumped 88 percent to $595.