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Trump admin's backlog of citizenship applications could prevent some from voting this fall: report

Trump admin's backlog of citizenship applications could prevent some from voting this fall: report
© MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

The backlog of citizenship applications in President TrumpDonald TrumpFranklin Graham says Trump comeback would 'be a very tough thing to do' Man suspected in wife's disappearance accused of casting her ballot for Trump Stefanik: Cheney is 'looking backwards' MORE's administration could prevent some people from voting in the November election, The Washington Post reported Monday. 

The backlog in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) could block applicants, who were hoping to cast their first ballots, from voting in the fall. The USCIS has not released the total number of backlogged cases but has reported hundreds of thousands of citizenship applications are pending, according to the Post. 

The latest available data from March 31 found more than 700,000 citizenship applications were pending. The agency has reportedly conducted 156,849 naturalizations since mid-March but more applications still would have been filed in that period, the Post noted.  

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USCIS spokesperson Dan Hetlage told the newspaper in a statement that the agency is expected to naturalize 600,000 new citizens this fiscal year, which ends after September. In 2019, 834,000 new citizens were naturalized – the highest amount in 11 years.

He attributed the lower estimate for 2020 compared to previous years to the coronavirus pandemic, which temporarily shut down USCIS offices. The agency has also acknowledged that underfunding and new policy changes from the Trump administration have contributed to the backlog, according to the Post.

After Trump’s election, the number of applications for citizenship increased, leaving some applicants to wait two or more years for approval, the Post noted. USCIS records indicate the average time for processing an application in fiscal year 2020 was almost nine months. The agency aims to complete the process in five months.

A June 30 report from the USCIS ombudsman determined the agency did not recruit enough staff to manage the boost in applications after Trump’s election. 

Naturalized citizens make up about 10 percent of the Americans who can vote in November, according to the Pew Research Center.