The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center and NPNA Encourage Eligible Immigrants to Apply for Citizenship



February 21, 2019


Alain J Nahimana | Executive Director

Office: 207 517 3405

Cell: 207 766 8551

The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center and NPNA Encourage Eligible Immigrants to Apply for Citizenship

Immigrant Welcome Center Joins “One Million Citizens by 2020 Campaign” and Condemns Trump’s Attacks on Citizenship

Portland, ME - Today, the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center joined with partner organizations across the country to call on eligible lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to apply for citizenship and demand that the Trump Administration undo the bureaucratic bottleneck that is keeping hundreds of thousands of eligible LPRs from becoming citizens and voting in the 2020 presidential elections. The Welcome Center and national partners’ goal is to reach one million eligible lawful permanent residents across the country by 2020.

“Despite the persistent attacks on citizenship, we will not back down. We are ready and eager to help eligible immigrants to apply for citizenship as soon as possible. The Trump administration should reverse course and substantially reduce the backlog of citizenship applications and the processing delays, which are keeping our community members from naturalizing and fully engaging with the electoral process,” said Alain J Nahimana, Executive Director of the Welcome Center.

There are over 750,000 citizenship applications before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency that is part of the Department of Homeland Security. This has almost doubled since 2015, with the majority of it occurring under the current administration. Delays in processing these applications average over a year nationwide, with some regions exceeding 30 months.

In Portland, the only service center for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Maine, the backlog is 518 applications. The processing delay for applications in Portland is 10 - 19.5 months, which means that processing delays are so long that some eligible legal permanent residents in Maine are at risk of being unable to complete the citizenship process in time to vote in the 2020 elections strictly because of these extended processing delays.

Additional barriers to citizenship add urgency to the importance of applying for naturalization now. These include a proposed change to the citizenship fee waiver that would build a wall around citizenship based on wealth and class; the proposed changes to the N-400 form to apply for naturalization that will make it more burdensome for applicants, the legal community and USCIS adjudicators themselves; new policy guidance making it more difficult for LPRs with disabilities to apply; and efforts by USCIS to strip citizenship away from naturalized citizens.

In 2018, the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center registered 110 new voters in our first year of civic engagement; as 2019 progresses, the Center calls on all eligible residents to apply for naturalization as soon as they are eligible to begin the process to deal with barriers and unfairly long processing backlogs.


The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center serves as a hub of collaboration that strengthens the immigrant community through language acquisition, economic integration and civic engagement.