Yesterday’s prominent display of a naturalization ceremony at the White House during the Republican National Convention featuring President Trump and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf suggests to the American public that naturalization is very important to this administration. Nothing could be further from the truth.
First, the administration devalued the gravity of this important ceremony by using it for political purposes, potentially a Hatch Act violation due to Acting Secretary Wolf’s participation. Second, the fact that Acting Secretary Wolf conducted the ceremony is, at best, a careless action since the U.S. General Accountability Office recently called into question the legality of Wolf’s appointment, throwing into doubt the legality of any action he takes, including this oath ceremony required by law for naturalization. Third, this administration’s record on naturalization has been more than abysmal:
- Over 300,000 Americans-in-waiting are at risk of not being naturalized on time;
- The administration is increasing the naturalization application fee by over 80% on October 2;
- Naturalization fee waivers will also be ended on October 2;
- Naturalization through military service has drastically diminished — by 65% — through red tape and bureaucratic hurdles;
- The administration has refused to make legally available accommodations to ensure fully vetted, eligible applicants could be naturalized through remote ceremonies during COVID;
- Sharing personal immigration and naturalization information obtained for immigration and naturalization services with the U.S. Census in an effort to exclude certain immigrants from the Census count;
- Making it more difficult for elderly applicants to naturalize by requiring fingerprinting for applicants over 75 despite years exempting them from this requirement for multiple rational reasons;
- Making it more difficult for U.S. citizens serving their nation abroad to obtain citizenship for their children born abroad;
- Launching of a large-scale denaturalization program using resources and fees paid by aspiring citizens, U.S. citizens, U.S. employers, and immigrants to process their requests for naturalization and immigration services;
- New hurdles to naturalization through use of bureaucratic red tape, including obstacles to obtaining disability waivers for the civics and English exam, expanding requirements for proving good moral character, and establishing stricter residence requirements for naturalization than in previous years; and,
- Bankrupting the agency that processes naturalization through xenophobic immigration and naturalization policies to the point that more than two-thirds of staff were days away from furlough.
Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch and former USCIS Chief Counsel, said: “Yesterday’s naturalization ceremony during the Republican National Convention belies the reality of the Trump administration’s abysmal record on naturalization and immigration over the last three and half years. It also demonstrates their clear contempt for the rule of law, notwithstanding their words to the contrary, given clear questions of Hatch Act violations and the legal authority of the Acting Secretary.”