The U.S. government agency in charge of processing naturalization and residency applications is preparing for a surge in its workload if President Barack Obama pushes ahead with federal immigration reform next year granting millions of undocumented workers legal status.
A spokesman for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services said the agency is gearing up to handle the huge increase in applications expected if immigration reform is passed by the U.S. Congress.
“This agency has been preparing for the advent of any kind of a comprehensive immigration reform, and if that means a surge of applications and operations, we have been working toward that,” USCIS spokesman Bill Wright told Reuters.
Immigration — particularly what to do with the almost 12 million illegal immigrants who live and work in the shadows — is a divisive issue in the United States.
Obama supports a comprehensive overhaul of laws to grant undocumented immigrants in good standing the chance to pay a fine and become citizens, as well as cracking down on illegal employers and tightening security on the porous Mexico border. But he faces fierce opposition from minority Republicans in Congress.