House Democrats push for virtual naturalization ceremonies in next coronavirus relief package

House Democrats push for virtual naturalization ceremonies in next coronavirus relief package
© Greg Nash

A group of House Democrats is asking party leaders to include provisions in the next coronavirus relief package that allow U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) to continue naturalization ceremonies virtually.

In a letter led by Reps. Norma TorresNorma Judith TorresHouse Democrat says she sleeps with gun nearby after clashing with El Salvador's president Harris, Hispanic Caucus meet on Central America House Democrats call for paid legal representation in immigration court MORE (D-Calif), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaLawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill Moderate Democrats warn leaders against meddling in Iowa race MORE (D-Calif.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralThe Memo: Harris, Ocasio-Cortez and the Democratic divide on immigration House Democrats introduce bill to close existing gun loopholes and prevent mass shootings Hispanic Caucus energized by first Biden meeting MORE (D-N.Y.), to House leaders Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack GOP increasingly balks at calling Jan. 6 an insurrection MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyGOP divided over bills targeting tech giants GOP increasingly balks at calling Jan. 6 an insurrection House Democrats' campaign arm raises almost million in May MORE (D-Calif.), the lawmakers said that USCIS canceled naturalization ceremonies from March 18 until at least June 4, leading to a backlog of more than 100,000 soon-to-be citizens awaiting the chance to take the formal oath. 

“Given the uncertain nature of the pandemic, it is unclear when in-person naturalization oath ceremonies can resume and whether USCIS will be able to reschedule these ceremonies in a timely fashion when it is safe to do so,” they wrote.


“As you consider the next COVID-19 relief package, we therefore urge you to include a provision that empowers USCIS to conduct secure remote naturalization oath ceremonies,” they added. 

House lawmakers are mulling another $1 trillion stimulus package that seeks to deliver aid to state and local governments while amping up safety net programs.

The lawmakers argue that creating a system of remote naturalizations provides “long-term flexibility to the agency far beyond the duration of the pandemic” and could result in an economic boost for the country after the pandemic has lead to record rates of unemployment. 

“Beyond this, naturalized citizens earn 44% more in annual employment income than their immigrant counterparts; income which contributes to the economic success of our communities, including through increased tax revenue which will be even more critical in the coming years,” the lawmakers argued.