Trump team’s latest voter suppression strategy—‘radically’ slowing naturalization to block new voters

Trump standing at a podium pointing at the crowd

Official White House Photo / Joyce N. Boghosian

If you’re not an American citizen, you can’t vote in one of our elections. So, in the only platform that they apparently have, the GOP is holding up hundreds of thousands of immigrants from becoming citizens.

Trump’s strategy doesn’t seem to include winning over any new voters — it’s to simply stop as many people from voting as possible. It’s the equivalent of a basketball coach not drawing up a single play for his team, just instructing others to take down the rim, smash the backboard and puncture the ball — then declaring victory.

Intentional backlogs

Anthony Tran / Unsplash

Just as Chris Christie “allegedly” clogged up the George Washington Bridge to teach a mayor a lesson, impeached President Donald J. Trump is slow-walking hundreds of thousands of applications.

Here’s twenty-six-year-old Laura Muñoz, a native of Colombia who submitted her paperwork NEARLY A YEAR AGO:

After you call this your country for so many years, you’re still not a part of its democracy.

When Trump took over, the average processing time was 5.6 months, below the six-month federal target. It’s now ballooned to 10-18 months since 2016.

It’s the swing states, stupid

Trump standing in front of a US map with states colored red/blue/purple

Wikipedia / PNG Guru

Yes, the COVID-19 outbreak hasn’t helped the situation as agency closures and social distancing requirements limit each ceremony’s size. But there are plenty of ways around those issues that – spoiler alert! – have largely been ignored.

  • Shorten the ceremonies so you can do more of them each day.
  • Have the ceremonies outdoors so you can increase the number of applicants.
  • Go virtual.
  • If all other requirements have been completed, waive the oath part.

However, because immigrants, especially Asian Americans and Latinos are a growing population in swing states, the more hoops they have to jump through, the better for Trump.

Think it’s no big deal? The number of newly naturalized voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada exceed Trump’s 2016 margin of victory.

In 2016, Trump was able to take Florida by just 112,911 votes. Meanwhile, the number of naturalized voters who became citizens between 2014 and 2018 is nearly triple that margin (415,468).

Some key states — such as Florida and Texas — have huge backlogs that will be impossible to remedy in time for November.

It all adds up to suppression


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services kept an astounding 738,148 people’s naturalization applications waiting for up to three years. And backlogs beget backlogs. There are now an additional 126,000 eligible immigrants playing this waiting game while government agencies play dead.

The Pew Research Center had projected 10% of the 2020 U.S. electorate would be naturalized citizens.

Running out the clock

a collection of clocks


Boundless, a network of immigration experts, estimates that each day that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services remain closed will keep 2,100 immigrants off the voting rolls for November 3.

Swearing in a group of five immigrants during the RNC was a campaign stunt — and about the only help Donald J. Trump has been to immigrants since he took office.

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