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

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

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 TorresIt's past time to be rid of the legacy of Jesse Helms Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden's latest plan on racial inequality MORE (D-Calif), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaCriminalization that never should have been: Cannabis Man arrested, charged with threatening to attack Muslims in Germany Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California MORE (D-Calif.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralLawmakers call for small business aid at all levels of government The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy On the Money: Administration to ban TikTok, WeChat | House moves toward bill to avoid government shutdown | Coronavirus relief bills boosted GDP, CBO says MORE (D-N.Y.), to House leaders Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader Conservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 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.

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“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. 

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“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.