AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
1400 EYE STREET N.W. Suite 1200
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20005
For immediate release
February 9, 1998
Contact: Jami Deise
New INS Naturalization Procedures Promise Integrity and Timeliness,
Immigration Lawyers Say
* * *
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."