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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

OMBUDSMAN: JUDGES HOLDING UP NATURALIZATIONS TO BOLSTER FUNDING FOR THE COURTS

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The USCIS Ombudsman has issued a report on naturalization in the US and a lot of very interesting and, in some cases, disturbing practices have been revealed. Some of the worst criticism is directed not at USCIS but at the federal district court judges that administer naturalization oaths. In more than half the USCIS districts around the country, the courts have exclusive jurisdiction to swear in new citizens. In the other districts, the courts only conduct naturalization ceremonies when an applicant simultaneously is requesting a name change.

In many of those districts where the courts have exclusive jurisdiction to issue oaths, backlogs are increasing despite USCIS' commendable improvements in processing times. In at least one large metropolitican area earlier this year, a judge refused USCIS request to conduct extra ceremonies that would have allowed about 2,000 people to vote in the November election.

In another case, a USCIS official requested a judge conduct an additional ceremony so that the agency could meet its naturalization goals. The judge demanded USCIS pay and rent a historical venue to conduct the ceremony. When the USCIS official stated that the office didn't have the funds for this and requested that the court facilities be used. The judge failed to back down and USCIS was forced to pay for the rental costs of the venue.

And in another case, USCIS leased for a year a larger facility than the courthouse so that more people could be naturalized in each ceremony. But the judge refused to conduct the ceremonies unless USCIS nevertheless paid the courts rent money despite the fact that the court was not used.

And two more incidents warrant a direct quote:

Inappropriate Religious or Political Remarks. In one judicial ceremony, an official participant of the ceremony made explicit sectarian religious remarks when discussing the origins of freedom;36 in another, the judge utilized his welcoming remarks to make pointed and partisan political comments. Specifically, the judge stated that persons should "get off their dead [posteriors] and oppose the war."

Threatening Verbiage. One USCIS district office reported an episode that resulted in a judge threatening to have USCIS officials fired for conducting an administrative naturalization ceremony. These district officials had repeatedly petitioned the court to provide additional administrative ceremonies. The district officials then exercised their authority to oath persons waiting more than 45 days, since approval from the court was no longer required as a matter of law.38 The administrative oath ceremony got typical press coverage and the judge saw the event on the television news. He phoned a USCIS officer at 9:00 p.m. and threatened to have him and his colleagues fired for ignoring the judge's decision.

The Washington Post's story on the report can be found here. And here is the Ombudsman's report.





USCIS Ombudsman Naturalization report - Get more Business Documents

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Comments

  1. George Chell's Avatar
    So literally they are on strike, a violation of federal law?
  2. LPR's Avatar
    Siskind: Do you think Dougherty should be kept on as Ombudsman after 1/20?
  3. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Can't say I really have an opinion on that.
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