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Drive-In Naturalization Ceremonies Grow While USCIS Budget Crisis Looms

A U.S. Customs and Immigration Services budget crisis could jeopardize naturalization ceremonies and November's elections

Max Siegelbaum

Jul 01, 2020

This summary was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Thousands of people around the country are taking the final step to citizenship under COVID-19 social-distancing rules. Judges are holding drive-through naturalization ceremonies, where immigrants become citizens from the safety of their cars. But with a looming budget crisis at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency may have to furlough nearly three-quarters of its workforce and bring these ceremonies to an end. This may in turn affect the upcoming elections in states like Michigan and Florida, where margins were slim enough in 2016 that a bump in eligible voters could tip the scales. The Associated Press

In other national immigration news…

Philadelphia Immigrant Representation Program is Saved

The Pennsylvania Immigrant Family Unity Project was almost cut about a month ago while Philadelphia was determining how to proceed amid the biggest budget crisis it has seen since the 2008 recession. The program provides free legal support to people in the immigration courts and is modeled after the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project. Now under Philadelphia’s adjusted coronavirus budget, it actually doubled its commitment to the program for 2021, making the budget $200,000. The Samuel S. Fels Fund is providing $300,000 over the course of three years. Al Dia News

Judge Orders ICE to Release all Detained Children

A federal judge has ordered ICE to release all children it has had in its custody for over 20 days by July 17. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of California said the Trump administration had failed to provide basic health protections for the children and their families and described the facilities as being “on fire.” She also added: “there is no more time for half measures.” The order applies to all three of the family detention centers in the U.S. Two are located in Texas and the third is in Pennsylvania. As of June 8, there were 124 children in those detention centers. NPR

New Study Examines Latinos in Immigration Law Enforcement

A new study in the journal Political Research Quarterly shows Latinos are disproportionately likely to join federal immigration enforcement agencies like ICE and CBP. Dr. David Cortez, a professor of Political Science and Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, interviewed Latino ICE agents in Texas, Arizona, and California for the report. He found they make up 30 percent of ICE agents and nearly 50 percent of Border Patrol agents. “As of 2015, Latinos make up 78 percent of the ICE workforce in El Paso [Texas],” Cortez said. “So we might say this is pretty representative of the broader community that ICE is charged with policing.” KTSM

Florida Gov. Requires Immigration Checks for All Government Employees and Contractors

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) quietly signed legislation that requires all government employers and some private businesses to use an electronic system administered by the federal government to check the immigration status of new workers. The measure has been a priority to DeSantis, who signed the proposal without a news conference or press release. The bill will require all public employers — including local school districts, public universities and state agencies — to use E-Verify, a system run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Critics of the measure say the E-Verify system makes mistakes and could damage Florida’s economy by discouraging potential applicants. The News Service of Florida

Max Siegelbaum

Co-executive Director of Documented




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