Processing Times and Citizenship

“How long is this case going to take?” I doubt a week has passed in my 20+ year immigration lawyer career without hearing that phrase. Because immigration does not have the funds to hire more workers, processing times are at an all-time high. A work permit may take over a year. An asylum case may take over a decade. The irony is that foreigners can change this.

A foreigner can become a US citizen, with the power to vote, through naturalization. Elected politicians determine how much money to give immigration for new staff hiring. Amazing that the people who recently endured immigration’s long delays can vote for politicians who will reduce those delays. What a country!

Naturalization and Responsibility

Yet, I have never known a politician to campaign for shorter immigration wait times. Perhaps they know that foreign-born U.S. citizens (about 23 million people) do not vote to improve the lives of other foreigners. This is my nature, too, I am ashamed to admit. I do not volunteer to teach reading, though I once did not know how to read. I do not mentor first generation college or first generation law students, though I have been both. Why are we in such a hurry to live what is ahead of us that we forget to look at who we left behind?

Naturalization and the Elderly

I take solace in helping the elderly and the disabled become US citizens. When a Down’s Syndrome client obtained her naturalization certificate, I beamed like a proud parent. Of my four grandparents, only my maternal grandmother became a citizen. My grandfather dreamed of returning to Cuba. Someday going to the tree in the back of the family house, digging up the chest of money that he buried, before leaving in March 1972 to add his name to the list at the Cuban Refugee Emergency Center in Miami. After he passed almost 20 years later, my grandmother added her name to the list of naturalized citizens. The government provided health and home care for 14 years.

Perhaps I can help others by creating citizens. I certainly would like to think so.

Disclaimer – These entries are based on real life events. Family member names, when used, are real. Client names are changed for privacy.

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