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Immigrants Confront Federal Official in Chicago

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Long waits in the processing of citizenship applications are causing frustrations. In several parts of the county, processing is averaging more than 14 months. It’s not so bad in Chicago. But today some immigrants confronted a federal official downtown. They wanted to know what’s happened to citizenship applications they submitted last summer.

Last year Citizenship and Immigration Services received a record 1.4 million naturalization applications nationwide. Most of them arrived before a steep fee increase in July. And many of the applications are still awaiting approval.

Today about two dozen immigrants tried to deliver a letter about it to the agency’s local director. Security wouldn’t let them in. But immigration spokeswoman Marilu Cabrera came down.

CABRERA: In Chicago we don’t have a backlog, luckily, in citizenship applications.

Yesterday the agency reported that processing at the Chicago office is averaging eight-and-half months when the applications aren’t complicated.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights insists many local applicants have been waiting longer than a year. At stake is their ability to vote in November.

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