AILA Press Release on INS/KPMG Naturalization Report

1400 Eye St. NW, Suite 1200
Washington, D.C. 20005
For Immediate Release: December 16, 1997

Contact: Jami Deise

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 Association.

"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," McCormick continued.

"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."

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 97121657.