Responding to Trump’s Ramped-Up Barriers to Citizenship

September 17th, 2018

On Citizenship Day, lawyers, legal service providers, and advocates encourage immigrants to become citizens while acknowledging new hurdles

NEW YORK, NY - Today on Citizenship Day, lawyers, legal service providers, and advocates from the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and The Legal Aid Society outlined the Trump administration’s efforts to thwart the legal process of becoming a citizen and threats to naturalized citizens. Both organizations continue to strongly urge immigrants seeking citizenship to consult a legal service provider.

Listen to the recording here.

Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, issued the following statement:

"The Trump administration has launched an odious sneak attack on citizenship - blocking the path to naturalization, falsely accusing citizens of fraud, and revoking passports. We will continue to fight back against this administration's anti-immigrant agenda and urge immigrants to continue applying for full American citizenship with the help of legal service providers."

“With the Trump Administration’s appalling war on immigrants continuing unabated, it’s imperative for eligible New Yorkers to naturalize to protect against unlawful detention and deportation,” said Hasan Shafiqullah, Attorney-In-Charge of the Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “On Citizenship Day and year-round, The Legal Aid Society stands ready to help immigrant New Yorkers with these important needs. We’re happy to join with the New York Immigration Coalition and others to raise awareness about this critical issue.”


Since Trump has taken office, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has had a backlog of pending naturalization applications, skyrocketing to 729,400 backlogged applications. This is an 87.59 percent increase in the number of pending applications in two years.

The growing backlog is one of the many recent barriers to citizenship. In June 2018, USCIS issued a policy memorandum laying out plans to expand USCIS’s authority to issue Notices to Appear (NTAs) to noncitizens who received an unfavorable decision on an application, petition, or benefit request. These NTAs would place these noncitizens in deportation proceedings before an immigration court.

Recent reporting also revealed that hundreds - and possibly thousands - of Latinx individuals along the Southern border have been accused of using fraudulent birth certificates, and in some cases, had their passports suddenly revoked.