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Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Joins Mayors and Executives Around the Country to Urge USCIS to Reduce Unacceptable Backlog of Citizenship Applications That Create “Second Wall” for Local Immigrants

Post Date:08/01/2018 4:28 PM
Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303


Keith Whitney, Director
404-330-6612, office

Michael Smith, Press Secretary
404-546-1465, office
470-372-8752, cell


For Immediate Release: August 1, 2018

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Joins Mayors and Executives Around the Country to Urge USCIS to Reduce Unacceptable Backlog of Citizenship Applications That Create “Second Wall” for Local Immigrants

ATLANTA—Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined nearly 50 U.S. mayors and executives who on Monday delivered a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Frank Cissna demanding that the agency reduce the backlog of over 753,000 citizenship applications and reduce the time it currently takes to process citizenship applications down to six months, on behalf of a quarter of a million immigrants with pending applications who reside in their cities. At the end of March 2018, Atlanta had a backlog of 21,006 citizenship applications with some lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”) waiting as long as 20 months for their applications to be processed.

“It is contradictory to our American values to tell immigrants to trust and abide by the citizenship process while slow-walking that very process,” said Mayor Bottoms. “The very fabric of our communities has been fashioned by immigrants and their cultural and economic contributions. If we are to find our way back to truly being the land of opportunity, USCIS must take bold and swift action to end the backlog.”

In June, Mayor Bottoms signed an Executive Order that prohibits the City jail from accepting any new ICE detainees and called on the Trump Administration to enact humane and comprehensive measures to fix our broken immigration system. Last week, Mayor Bottoms convened the first meeting of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Immigrant Detention—a body comprised of City officials, immigrant rights activists and legal experts. 

In just the last quarter of this fiscal year, the backlog of citizenship applications increased by 23,952 applications, reaching the current backlog of 753,352 applications. At the current rate, it would take USCIS over 25 years to get back down to the Obama administration’s backlog level of 380,639 applications in 2015, and that is assuming no new applications. 

The letter requests a comprehensive and detailed plan describing how USCIS will achieve backlog reduction and a commitment to share the plan with mayors across the country. The letter also asks for specifics on previous measures taken by the agency to reduce the backlog and an analysis of why those measures failed.

These growing backlogs mainly impact cities and their USCIS field offices. At the end of March 2018: 

●      New York had a backlog of 81,206 applications; 

●      Houston had a backlog of 42,341 applications; 

●      Dallas had a backlog of 38,094 applications; 

●      San Francisco had a backlog of 27,481 applications; 

●      Chicago had a backlog of 27,238 applications; 

●      Newark had a backlog of 26,146 applications; 

●      Atlanta had a backlog of 21,006 applications

●      Baltimore had a backlog of 20,485 applications; 

●      Seattle had a backlog of 18,707 applications; 

●      Miami had a backlog of 17,955 applications; 

●      Los Angeles County had a backlog of 17,570 applications; 

●      Philadelphia had a backlog of 17,336 applications; 

●      St. Paul had a backlog of 16,762 applications; 

●      Los Angeles City had a backlog of 16,614 applications; and 

●      The District of Columbia had a backlog of 16,564 applications.

Read the letter here.

About National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)

The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is a national multiethnic, multiracial partnership. We represent the collective power and resources of the country’s 37 largest regional immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 31 states. Our members provide large-scale services—from DACA renewal application processing to voter registration to health care enrollment—for their communities, and they combine service delivery with sophisticated organizing tactics to advance local and state policy. We exist to leverage their collective power and expertise for a national strategy. We believe America’s success is rooted in our ongoing commitment to welcoming and integrating newcomers into the fabric of our nation, and to upholding equality and opportunity as fundamental American values.



For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Bottoms on Facebook and Twitter @KeishaBottoms

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