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New Report Proves Naturalization Process is Sound

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 98021059 (posted Feb. 10, 1998)"

AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
1400 EYE STREET N.W. Suite 1200
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20005

For immediate release
February 9, 1998

Contact: Jami Deise
Phone: 202-216-2404

New INS Naturalization Procedures Promise Integrity and Timeliness, Immigration Lawyers Say

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New Reports Detail Past Problems, Give Direction for Future

Washington, D.C. - The accounting firms KPMG Peat Marwick and Coopers & Lybrand today released separate reports on the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s naturalization procedures that document past problems due to prior procedures, and propose new systems that promise both integrity and timeliness. The KPMG report showed that of the 569,822 people naturalized last year, only 368 were naturalized improperly. The Coopers & Lybrand report proposed new technologies that would upgrade the naturalization process and improve the procedure for the increasing number of immigrants who apply for citizenship each year.

"According to the KPMG report, the past problems constitute an extremely small percentage of a successful whole," stated Margaret McCormick, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "While those few problems are still too many, they were the result of a system that the agency no longer uses. The INS has now put procedures in place to ensure that improper naturalizations do not occur.

"The report offered by Coopers & Lybrand paints a very bright picture of the possibilities for the naturalization process," added AILA Executive Director Jeanne Butterfield. "Use of the new technologies and procedures that were proposed offers the INS a real opportunity to finally address the unconscionable number of immigrants waiting in the backlog to become citizens."

In 1997, 1.6 million applications for naturalization were received, but only 569,822 were approved, leaving over one million applications for naturalization pending. Experts estimate that the backlog will cause current citizenship applicants to wait over two years for their paperwork to be processed.

"Now the ball is in Congress’ court," continued Butterfield. "Will it continue to focus on past mistakes, and punish the INS and the immigrants the agency serves? Or will Congress give the funds that the agency needs to successfully implement an improved process that values integrity, fairness and efficiency?"

"Is Congress for naturalization, or against it?" McCormick concluded. "This is what it boils down to."

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