A project of the Center for Community Change

Thousands of New Citizens Denied their Right to Vote

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that at least 2,000 new citizens had their swearing-in ceremonies delayed by the Federal court system this year, denying them the ability to vote in this November’s election.

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Federal judges in some parts of the United States are delaying the swearing-in of new citizens, apparently so that courts can keep millions of dollars in naturalization fees paid by immigrants, according to a new government report and immigration analysts.

In one of the nation’s busiest courts, a judge’s delay caused nearly 2,000 people to not receive the oath in time to register for November’s general election, according to the ombudsman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Michael Dougherty, in a 13-page report posted on his office’s internet site yesterday.

As though navigating our immigraton system isn’t difficult or convoluted enough, once immigrants are ONE step away from citizenship, the system makes them wait. Again. This would be an injustice in any circumstance, but the fact that it denied these citizens their right to vote – the foundation of our democracy – is particularly egregious.

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