AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
1400 Eye St. NW, Suite 1200
Washington, D.C. 20005
For Immediate Release: December 16, 1997
Contact: Jami Deise
NEW REPORT PROVES THAT NATURALIZATION PROCESS IS SOUND
Washington, D.C. - A report released today by the accounting firm KPMG Peat
Marwick, which showed that less than one percent of naturalized citizens were
naturalized improperly, proves that Congressional rhetoric on criminals becoming
citizens has little factual basis, according to the American Immigration Lawyers
"This report should prove once and for all that immigrants applying to become
citizens are honest, dependable individuals who want nothing more than to claim
America as their home and take on all rights and responsibilities associated with
citizenship," said AILA President Peggy McCormick. "By implying that a significant
percentage of naturalized citizens had criminal records, Congress has done a real
disservice to our immigrant community."
The report showed that of the 1.6 million applications received by the Immigration
and Naturalization Service in fiscal year 1996, over 700,000 were processed and
569,822 were approved. Only about 300 were wrongly naturalized. By contrast, in
fiscal year 1996, 1.046 million applications were approved.
Experts now estimate that the backlog will cause current applicants to wait over two
years for their paperwork to be processed. "While AILA commends INS’ efforts to
reduce the huge naturalization backlog, resources must be allocated fairly to
achieve timely adjudications for U.S. family and employment-based petitions,"
"The Peat Marwick audit has proven that the criminal allegations were vastly
overstated at the expense of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who want to
become citizens but have been held up by a stalled naturalization process. That’s
nearly 500,000 people who will be unable to vote, sit on a jury, or exercise the other
privileges of citizenship," McCormick concluded. "By focusing almost exclusively on
the few who did not merit citizenship, Congress derailed the highest aspirations of a
huge number of worthy people."