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An open letter to Senator John Cornyn: Investigate the citizenship application backlog

Texas progressive organizations from across the state have called for Sen. John Cornyn to investigate the citizenship application backlog and protect voting rights for eligible Texans.

On Dec. 13, Progress Texas, Texas AFL-CIO, America’s Voice, and six other voting rights and immigration reform organizations called on U.S. Senator John Cornyn to investigate United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the backlog of 80,000 Texas applications for citizenship.

The letter sent to Cornyn reads as follows

Dear Senator Cornyn: 

We, the undersigned organizations, call on you to investigate United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the backlog of 80,000 Texas applications for citizenship.

The Houston Chronicle recently reported over 80,000 Texans are stuck in Naturalization Limbo. Federal immigration officials are taking significantly longer than before to weigh applications, and some cases are now taking a year and a half or more to make it through a process that used to take about six months on average. The right to citizenship must be carried out in order for our state and country to truly be democratic.

There are tens of thousands of Texans who are a part of our economy and our communities that are awaiting the ability to participate in our democracy through voting. The right to vote is a privilege and responsibility of every American, and we must ensure government officials value integrity and fairness in our election system.

As you know, our state has a history of voter suppression. These processing delays are just the latest hurdle potentially keeping immigrants from voting booths in Texas, and must end now to ensure that no one’s right to vote is infringed upon in our state. The delays have already kept some new citizens from voting in recent elections. This is unacceptable, and must be investigated. 

The administration has also proposed raising fees to apply for citizenship from $725 to $1,170 for most applicants, while eliminating existing waivers offered to immigrants who can’t afford to pay. This would price out many Texans from U.S. citizenship and reserve U.S. citizenship for the wealthy only.

Our diversity is our strength, and the pathway to citizenship must be accessible for eligible immigrants from all walks of life. We must ensure that this process is affordable to Texans in order to live up to our democratic values. 

Senator Cornyn, as U.S. Senator for Texas, you have the authority to provide Texans with an answer and relief to their long held worries of the naturalization process. 

Under no circumstances should Texans be subjected to wait for their naturalization process for as long as they have. An 18-month wait is unacceptable. 

The tens of thousands of Texans awaiting the naturalization process are counting on you, as well as the staff, members, volunteers, and other Texans affiliated with the undersigned organizations. 

We call on you to investigate the backlog of 80,000 Texas applications for citizenship, Texans have waited long enough in the naturalization process. 

Sincerely, 

Progress Texas, America’s Voice, Annie’s List, Common Cause Texas, Deeds Action Fund, Indivisible Austin, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, SEIU Texas, Texas AFL-CIO, Texas Freedom Network, Texas Rising

Join us in calling on Senator John Cornyn to take action. Sign our petition now!