Im­mi­grant num­bers soared in 2006

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Eric Pfeif­fer

The num­ber of im­mi­grants in the United States seek­ing and ob­tain­ing cit­i­zen­ship in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly last year, ac­cord­ing to num­bers ob­tained from the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity’s Bureau of Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices.

CIS said 721,268 im­mi­grants, in­clud­ing 9,374 mil­i­tary per­son­nel, be­came nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zens last year. That is a 22 per­cent in­crease over the 2005 num­bers, when 588,994 im­mi­grants be­came nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zens.

Thenum­berof­peo­plerequest­ing cit­i­zen­ship forms from the CIS Web site also in­creased. Last year, 696,020 cit­i­zen­ship forms were down­loaded, up 15 per­cent over the 594,260 forms down­loaded in 2005.

“It’s not un­usual for us to see fluc­tu­a­tions in the num­bers of peo­ple who ap­ply for cit­i­zen­ship each year,” said CIS spokes­woman Sharon Rum­mery, when asked whether the num­bers could re­flect con­gres­sional de­bate last year about il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

Mean­while, fed­eral of­fi­cials on Jan. 23 an­nounced the sweep of more than 750 il­le­gal aliens across the Los An­ge­les metropoli­tan area. The week­long se­ries of raids tar­geted those who had been de­ported pre­vi­ous­ly­for­crime­sor­who­hadig­nored de­por­ta­tion or­ders.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials called it one of the big­gest such sweeps in U.S. his­tory.

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported that 338 il­le­gal aliens were ap­pre­hendedintheirhome­sand423were iden­ti­fied in lo­cal jails.

On Jan. 22, Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Michael Chertoff met with Repub­li­can sen­a­tors on Capi­tol Hill to dis­cuss the ar­rests last month of 1,297 il­le­gal work­ers at Swift & Co. meat­pack­ing plants in Colorado, Iowa, Ne­braska, Texas and Utah. The sen­a­tors re­port­edly were up­set with how the raid was con­ducted, say­ing it re­vealed flaws in a fed­eral pro­gram de­signed to help­busi­nessess­creen­their­pay­rolls for il­le­gal aliens. “I can’t think of a sys­tem that would be bet­ter de­signed to fail,” Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Repub­li­can, told the AP.

Also on Jan. 22, CIS an­nounced plans to re­vamp its nat­u­ral­iza­tion test to “cre­ate a test and test­ing process that is stan­dard­ized, fair and mean­ing­ful.” In a “fact sheet,” CIS ac­knowl­edged that “var­i­ous stud­ies found that the exam lacked stan­dard­ized con­tent, in­stru­ments, pro­to­cols or scor­ing sys­tem.”

The bureau said the new stan­dard­ized test­ing should “en­cour­age civic learn­ing and pa­tri­o­tism among prospec­tive cit­i­zens [. . .] with an em­pha­sis on the fun­da­men­tal con­cepts of Amer­i­can democ­racy and the rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of cit­i­zen­ship.”

Cre­at­ing new stan­dard­ized tests at CIS ad­dresses at least one of the ma­jor­chal­lenges­fac­ingth­eagency, which re­ceives $2 bil­lion in an­nual fund­ing. Last year, Congress voted to with­hold $47 mil­lion from the de­part­ment’sbud­getun­tilMr.Chertoff andtheGovern­men­tAc­count­abil­ity Of­fice com­plete plans for a ma­jor tech­nol­ogy over­haul that crit­ics say is needed to rem­edy long waits and bu­reau­cratic prob­lems for peo­ple try­ing to im­mi­grate legally.

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