Tags: Coronavirus | Immigration | Trump Administration | naturalization

Ex-Reagan Official Linda Chavez: Time to Resume Naturalization Ceremonies

linda chavez is shown wearing a cobalt suit
 (Sipa via AP Images)

By    |   Friday, 22 May 2020 08:39 AM

Former President Ronald Reagan official Linda Chavez thinks it is time to resume naturalization ceremonies for immigrants, even if they are done remotely. 

The process to become an American citizen was put on pause amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has used the pandemic to put tight immigration measures in place. 

In an opinion letter for The Bulwark, Chavez writes that immigrants have been “playing an essential role in keeping America fed and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic” and asks if it is time to say, “thank you by allowing those who are eligible and have gone through all the necessary steps to become citizens?”

Chavez writes that thousands of immigrants are waiting to take the oath since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services closed their offices in March.

“Until they take the oath, immigrants are still just residents, not citizens, with none of the rights or obligations citizens undertake,” she penned. 

She proposed administering the oath virtually and also suggested allowing immigrants vying for naturalization to complete their necessary interviews remotely as well. 

“While it is understandable that CIS has put on hold the large swearing-in ceremonies, often presided over by dignitaries from judges to the vice president, the oath could be administered in other ways, as could the penultimate step of personal interviews,” she said. “Congress has authorized the attorney general to expedite naturalization if ‘sufficient cause’ exists to dispense with an in-person ceremony. If a pandemic that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans and afflicted more than 1.5 million others is not sufficient cause, I cannot imagine what is.” 

Chavez points out that CIS is already backlogged with an advocacy group Boundless reporting that 126,000 people are already waiting to be sworn in. 

If Boundless estimates are accurate, she said continued delays will result in 2,100 people per day added to the backlog. 

“Unless these individuals can take the oath remotely, they likely will not be sworn in any time soon — which will prevent them from voting in 2020,” she said, adding this should not be a partisan issue. 

“It would be a shame to ask immigrants to continue to staff hospitals as doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel, deliver necessary goods to businesses and individuals, clean public spaces so that we can return to work, and pick the fruit and vegetables and process the meat and dairy products that feed us—yet refuse those who’ve earned the right to become citizens to do so,” she said. 

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Former President Ronald Reagan official Linda Chavez thinks it is time to resume naturalization ceremonies for immigrants, even if they are done remotely. 
Friday, 22 May 2020 08:39 AM
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