Immigrants in US military denied citizenship more often than civilians

Immigrants in US military denied citizenship more often than civilians
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Members of the U.S. military born in other countries are now turned down for U.S. citizenship at a higher rate than other foreign-born people.

Statistics released by U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) show that the agency denial rate for members of the military who applied for U.S. citizenship in the last few months of 2018 was 16.6 percent.

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That's more than five percentage points higher than the rate of denial for civilian applications for citizenship in the same period, which was 11.2 percent.

A wider look at the data shows that the two rates were closer at the beginning of President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE's term in the White House, when the civilian denial rate was higher (14 percent) than the military denial rate (10 percent). But that soon changed, with the rate of civilian applications being denied increasing at a slower average pace than the rate of U.S. military applications for citizenship.

The disparity was widest during the first quarter of 2018, when the rate of citizenship requests denied for members of the U.S. military hit 20 percent, while the rate of requests denied for civilians hovered close to its current rate.

A senior adviser to the progressive veterans' advocacy group VoteVets told the Fresno Bee that the data showed a surprising reversal of policy for the Trump administration from previous White House doctrine.

“The U.S. has had a long-standing tradition of immigrants come to the U.S. and have military service provide a path to citizenship,” said ret. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton. “To have this turnaround, where they are actually taking a back seat to the civilian population strikes me as a bizarre turn of events.”

A spokesperson for USCIS told The Hill in an email that the agency was committed to supporting service members who apply for citizenship, while noting that there were several reasons why service members could be denied citizenship including a requirement to provide proof that they served honorably.

“USCIS has long recognized the important sacrifices made by our nation’s service members, veterans, enlistees, and their families and continues to have a robust military outreach program to ensure they have access to accurate information about immigration services and benefits. USCIS will continue to support noncitizens who are serving, or who have served, in the U.S. armed forces and are eligible to apply for naturalization under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act," spokeswoman Jessica Collins said.