A group of House Democrats is asking party leaders to include provisions in the next coronavirus relief package that allow U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) to continue naturalization ceremonies virtually.
In a letter led by Reps Norma TorresNorma Judith TorresHouse Democrats push for protections for health care workers in next aid packageDemocratic reps ask Trump not to issue region-specific social distancing guidelinesOvernight Health Care Presented by PCMA US now leads world in known coronavirus cases | Unemployment claims soar by over 3 million | House to vote on stimulus Friday | Ventilator shortage sets off scrambleMORE (D-Calif), Luis Correa (D-Calif.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralNY, NJ lawmakers call for more aid to help fight coronavirus Obama presses for social distancing policies to remain in placeSelf-quarantined New York lawmaker: ‘We should be in total lockdown’MORE (D-N.Y.), to House leaders Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe next big battle on Capitol Hill concerns aid to states and localitiesPelosi slams White House for blocking coronavirus task force members from testifying: ‘They might be afraid of the truth’Parties divided over health risks to reopening CapitolMORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyParties divided over health risks to reopening CapitolHouse Democrat calls for halt to lawmakers sleeping in their officesGOP leader disagrees with Pelosi, McConnell on WH testing offerMORE (D-Calif.), the lawmakers said that USCIS cancelled naturalization ceremonies from March 18 until at least May 3, leading to a backlog of over 100,000 soon-to-be citizens awaiting the chance to take the formal oath.
Given the uncertain nature of the pandemic, it is unclear when in-person naturalization oath ceremonies can resume and whether USCIS will be able to reschedule these ceremonies in a timely fashion when it is safe to do so, they wrote.
As you consider the next COVID-19 relief package, we therefore urge you to include a provision that empowers USCIS to conduct secure remote naturalization oath ceremonies, they added.
House lawmakers are currently mulling another $1 trillion stimulus package that seeks to deliver aid to state and local governments while amping up safety-net programs.
The lawmakers argue that creating a system of remote naturalizations provides long-term flexibility to the agency far beyond the duration of the pandemic and could result in an economic boost for the country after the pandemic has lead to record rates of unemployment.
Beyond this, naturalized citizens earn 44% more in annual employment income than their immigrant counterparts; income which contributes to the economic success of our communities, including through increased tax revenue which will be even more critical in the coming years, the lawmakers argued.