Week Ending June 16
NCLR Celebrates Anniversaries of Historic Plyler v. Doe Decision and Announcement of DACA: This week NCLR marked the historic decision handed down 35 years ago in Plyler v. Doe, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ensured equal access to a free public education for all children in the United States, regardless of immigration status. The Supreme Court found that denying children a public education based on immigration status not only violates the U.S. Constitution, but also jeopardizes any future contributions these children may make in helping the nation advance. NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía recognized the historic decision as vital to opening doors of opportunity: “The Supreme Court decision 35 years ago confirms what we already know—education is an investment in a better America for all. Plyler v. Doe ensures that all children in America have a constitutional guarantee of an education. As the next generation of children enter America’s public schools, this critical pathway to success must be protected.”
This week also marked the 5-year anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). “The road to a better America begins with education and opportunity. That’s why we support Plyler v. Doe and DACA, and the future they offer to millions of children and youth across the nation,” stated Janet Murguía.
On June 7, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—the federal agency in charge of processing all immigration-related services—released data on applications filed under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The data confirm that, in the first three months of the Trump administration, USCIS has continued to receive and process DACA requests at similar levels to those during the previous year.
Between January and March 2017, USCIS approved 107,524 DACA renewals and 17,275 new applications. The numbers are comparable to the previous three-month period (October to December 2016).
Week Ending October 28
This week in immigration: USCIS announces new fee schedule and guidance on ‘extreme hardship’; new report shows benefits of DACA extend into communities across the country.
USCIS issues new fee schedule: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) published a final rule adjusting the fees required for most immigration applications and petitions. The new fees will be effective December 23, 2016 and there is an average 21 percent increase in most application fees. The fee rule has been made final after USCIS reviewed stakeholder feedback. During the comment period earlier this year, NCLR expressed disappointment at the increase of fees, but was encouraged by the creation of a new partial fee waiver.
One of the results of the final rule is a new three-level fee system for the application for naturalization (Form N-400). The standard fee will increase from $680 to $725 (including biometrics). USCIS will introduce a partial fee waiver that will apply to applicants with household incomes between 150-200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, or between $36,000-$48,000 per year (for a household of four). The full fee waiver for applicants with household incomes under 150 percent of poverty will remain in effect. Professor Manuel Pastor, Director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) at the University of Southern California, estimates that there are 1 million legal immigrants who will be eligible for the new partial naturalization fee waiver, and 2.7 million immigrants who are eligible for the full naturalization fee waiver.
USCIS will host a conference call to answer questions regarding the final rule on November 2nd at 3:30 Eastern. To register for the USCIS call with Director Rodriguez, click on the USCIS registration page and follow the instructions.
With Citizenship Day on September 17, we are proud to announce that we have begun a new Citizenship Application Assistance Project. Affiliates in Arizona, Florida, California, Illinois, and Massachusetts will now provide application assistance to eligible lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to become naturalized U.S. citizens.
NCLR has actively worked on the issue of citizenship since 1991, when we released the report Unlocking the Golden Door, calling for policy reforms and increased engagement by NCLR Affiliates to encourage Hispanic immigrants to naturalize. In 2009, we launched our Citizenship Assistance program. Over the course of two years, we worked with about 48 NCLR Affiliates, local community organizations, and several cooperating businesses to help 11,340 LPRs complete their naturalization applications. During the upcoming year, NCLR will provide subgrants, training, and technical assistance to NCLR Affiliates to expand naturalization programs.
We have just published a new brief that describes the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ fee review process to explain how the fee is established. It also explores the effect of the fee on naturalization rates.
This brief will provide related recommendations for the administration and for Congress to further encourage eligible immigrants to apply for citizenship.
Download and read it today.