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Lawsuit Seeks Documents On Delays In Processing Citizenship Applications

Immigrant rights groups are taking the federal government to court over access to records tied to applications for citizenship.

The most recent data available shows a backlog of more than 750,000 green card holder requests to naturalize.

Court documents say activists filed the lawsuit because U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services did not respond to a huge Freedom of Information Act request. Much of the request was for documents about delays in processing of citizenship applications.

The government’s goal is to process applications in 5 to 7 months. But the current estimated wait time in Phoenix is about 15 to 17 months. In Tucson, the wait is roughly 10 to 18 months.

A spokesperson for Immigration and Citizenship Services declined to comment on the lawsuit. They say despite a recent spike in applications, the annual number of naturalizations has not fallen.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.