Last week, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and Martin Heinrich, D-NM–both sons of naturalized U.S. citizens–sent A letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Acting Director Kenneth Cuccinelli requesting that the agency increase small in-person ceremonies and seek out alternative methods for eligible immigrants with approved naturalization applications to safely participate in U.S. Citizenship Oath of Allegiance Ceremonies.
In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and in compliance with guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USCIS temporarily suspended in-person services in March. This pause has left eligible individuals without an opportunity to participate in naturalization ceremonies, a legal requirement for U.S. citizenship.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Acting Director Cuccinelli:
As our country recovers from the public health effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we are writing to respectfully request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) take all necessary measures to ensure eligible immigrants with approved naturalization applications have an opportunity to safely participate in U.S. Citizenship Oath of Allegiance Ceremonies, including remotely administering oaths of allegiance and expanding small in-person ceremonies, in accordance with preventive measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health authorities.
As you are aware, on March 18, 2020, USCIS temporarily suspended in-person services to help slow the spread of COVID-19, leaving over 100,000 individuals without an opportunity to participate in naturalization ceremonies, a legal requirement for U.S. citizenship. Further, all eligible immigrants have completed all USCIS requirements, including passage of both a citizenship interview and citizenship exam, a thorough background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and meeting all residency requirements.
America’s remarkable spirit is rooted in our diversity, history, and culture, which has always been enriched by our immigrant communities. We have had the privilege of meeting many eligible applicants and sharing their inspiring stories. Immigrants make extraordinary contributions to our economy and give back to their communities. Oath of Allegiance Ceremonies are a great step forward in their lives and also for our country.
Our immigrant communities have helped write the economic, social, and cultural story of America. Accordingly, we urge USCIS to ensure eligible applicants have an opportunity to participate in U.S. Citizenship Oath of Allegiance Ceremonies to become citizens and are able to continue to contribute to our great country.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.