The Department of Homeland Security failed to prepare for a massive influx of applications for U.S. citizenship and other immigration benefits this summer, prompting complaints from Hispanic leaders and voter-mobilization groups that several hundred thousand people likely will not be granted citizenship in time to cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election.
Bush administration officials said yesterday that they had anticipated applicants would rush to file their paperwork to beat a widely publicized fee increase that took effect July 30, but did not expect the scale of the response. The backlog comes just months after U.S. officials failed to prepare for tougher border security requirements that triggered months-long delays for millions of Americans seeking passports.
Before the fee hike, citizenship cases typically took about seven months to complete. Now, immigration officials can take five months or more just to acknowledge receipt of applications from parts of the country and will take 16 to 18 months on average to process applications filed after June 1, according to officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is part of DHS. Such a timeline would push many prospective citizens well past voter-registration deadlines for the 2008 primaries and the general elections.
How convenient. I mean, nobody could have anticipated an influx of citizenship applications, right? I'm sure that it has nothing to do with the growing and changing Hispanic electorate. (/snark) NDN.org:
In our new report, Hispanics Rising, NDN reviews the emerging politics of the fastest-growing part of the American electorate, one deeply changed by the immigration debate. The report documents how Hispanics have gone from a group trending Republican to a group overwhelmingly Democratic; one whose percentage of the American electorate has increased by 33 percent in the last 4 years; and one poised, because of the structure of the Electoral College, to determine who the next President will be in 2008.