THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release August 23, 1996
August 22, 1996
MEMORANDUM FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AND OTHER HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES SUBJECT: Naturalization
Citizenship is the cornerstone of full participation in our democracy. To become a United States citizen through naturalization represents a pledge to undertake the responsibilities of being a full member of our national community.
Naturalization is the best example of our legal immigration system at work. It reflects our society's recognition of those who came to this country to work hard, play by the rules, and pursue shared ideals of freedom, opportunity, and responsibility.
In the past, hundreds of thousands of eligible people have had to wait unnecessarily to become citizens. In some parts of the country, these people have had to wait well over a year after filing their application to realize their dream of United States citizenship.
This Administration is committed to eliminating the waiting lists of those eligible for citizenship. To accomplish this, we launched "Citizenship U.S.A.," the most ambitious citizenship effort in history. In fiscal year 1996, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) will spend more than $165 million for naturalization.
Citizenship U.S.A. combines three broad strategies: hiring more people to handle applications, improving the naturalization process, and expanding partnerships with local officials and community organizations.
We are already making progress. We have increased the staff 235 percent in the five districts with 75 percent of the pending applications: Los Angeles, New York, Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago. In Los Angeles, where one-fourth of all new applications are filed, we have opened three new processing centers and have more than quadrupled the number of INS officers handling citizenship applications.
But this is just the beginning. This Administration's target is to process and swear-in within 6 months of application all individuals eligible for citizenship. As we meet this target, more than one million newcomers will become citizens by the end of this year. After that, INS shall maintain those reforms necessary to stay current with the demand of new citizen applicants.
Using all of the tools at your disposal, I ask you to ensure that policies and practices necessary to accomplish these targets of one million new citizens sworn-in and the elimination of the waiting list are implemented. This includes continuing, expanding or accelerating, as appropriate and practicable, the following:
In taking these steps, this Administration shall maintain and strengthen the standards and requirements of the naturalization test that demonstrate an individual's readiness to accept the responsibilities of citizenship and full participation in our national community. You are directed to continue vigilant oversight to uphold these standards.
Hundreds of thousands of people are seeking the dream and the promise of American citizenship. They have worked to become United States citizens, and these steps should ensure that they are not made to wait unnecessarily.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
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