Bumpy Road to Citizenship
From The World Journal
September 18, 2003
On Sept. 17, the Citizenship Day, immigrant organizations representing
different ethnic groups from all over New York City gathered in
front of the Federal Office Building in Lower Manhattan to protest
against “roadblocks to the naturalization of immigrants,” created
by the Bush administration and the Department of Homeland Security,
which has taken over the responsibilities of the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS). Protestors said the government has
delayed processing a large number of immigration documents without
good reason, which has deprived rights of legal immigrants, prevented
many of them from moving freely and caused unemployment and separation
Nearly one hundred Hispanic, Asian, Russian and other
people held signs that required the Bush administration to “keep
open the road to naturalization,” “return rights to
up allocation of administrative resources and cut abnormal backlog
of immigration documents.” Another sign read, “We pay
taxes, but why can’t we vote?”
Margaret Chin, Deputy
Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality said Citizenship
Day should be a special occasion when people
celebrate becoming U.S. citizens but has lost its sense of celebration,
when neither the Bush administration’s promise to end the
immigration application backlog or assurance of the Department
of Homeland Security to improve its service has come through.
Liu and Lai Luo were among victims of the delay. Liu, 57, obtained
a green card shortly after he came to the United States.
He passed the citizenship exam in 1996 but has been “ridiculed” by
immigration officials for seven years, visiting the Federal Office
Building more than 20 times and still waiting to be sworn in.
Luo, 62, was in a worse situation. He passed the exam in 1999 and
after endless waiting, required the INS to explain the delay.
INS officials said they had revoked his entitlement to citizenship
because he “did not inform INS when he moved.” Luo
appealed, regained his qualification but was still waiting for
notice of sworn-in. Stories of Liu and Lai were reoccurring every
day. Margie McHugh, Executive Director of the New York Immigration
Coalition, said Bush’s promise was nothing but a lie, and
that the backlog was getting worse with inequitable allocation
of administrative resources and inadequate budget for immigrant
services. Official statistics showed an unprecedented 1.2 million
cases of green card application were in the backlog.
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Translated from Chinese by Shasha Dai