(Arlington, VA) – American communities and the U.S. economy may be threatened by an apparent inability of the federal government to facilitate and expedite the orderly admission and naturalization of legal immigrants. In recent months, the backlog of naturalization applications has grown by a stunning amount. There are now more than 700,000 immigrants who have applied and qualified for citizenship, but who are waiting months for naturalization. The backlog has grown by a reported 93 percent since 2016.
Additionally, it has become significantly harder for immigrants to take advantage of legal work visas – such as the H-1B visa, which is intended to draw highly-skilled workers from abroad. According to an independent assessment, the rate of H-1B visa denials grew by 41 percent at the end of 2017, and the rate at which authorities request additional information – often prelude to rejection – more than tripled. According to an estimate by The Washington Post, the number of people receiving visas to move permanently to the United States is on pace to drop 12 percent during 2017 and 2018.
Daniel Garza, President of The LIBRE Initiative, released the following statement:
“Our communities and our economy benefit from legal immigration, and polls show that support for legal immigration is at an all time high. Nevertheless, there are troubling signs that the government and our outdated legal immigration system have often become a barrier to opportunity for those seeking to legally immigrate to America and contribute to our society.
Our economy depends on the contributions of many talented immigrant workers – as has been true since the founding of our nation. If immigrants are increasingly denied or delayed the opportunity to legally contribute to our nation and our economy, everyone suffers. Furthermore, many thousands of immigrants who have qualified for naturalization are being forced to wait for many months – as the backlog grows without a clear indication of when it will be addressed.
Policymakers should focus on the problems in the system today – problems that are hurting businesses, communities, and families. This is a challenge that Congress and the White House should address as quickly as possible – before it grows worse.”