Daniela Carrion Interview: Trumps Plan on Immigration

As the President considers the possibility of an executive order to end citizenship for children of non-citizens born in the U.S., wait times on applications for those looking to become US citizens are rising.

Right now, more than 700,000 immigrants are on waiting lists. At one point, Tampa resident Rimma Magdessian was one of those people.

Magdessian was one of 27 residents who were part of an all-woman naturalization ceremony in March 2017.

“Once I become a citizen I felt like I was flying,” she said.

Madgessian moved to the United States from Russia when she was 19 years old. She says her 7-year-old son is the reason she never gave up her fight to become a U.S. citizen.

It was a long journey that she said took 22 years.

“Nobody knew what’s going on or why it’s taking so long. When I asked about it, I would get different answers from people telling me it’s in this office and then in another office.”

While Madgessian’s wait was exceptionally long, she feels for the 700,000 immigrants waiting on applications to become citizens. It’s a process that typically takes about six months, but it has now stretched to years according to the Department of Homeland Security.

While those numbers have increased since President Trump took office in 2016, backlogs in the U.S. immigration system are nothing new.

Immigration lawyer Daniela Carrion helps people go through the tedious process.

“ It can take anywhere from two years all the way up to six years in some cases, ” she said.

For Carrion, helping others through immigration law is personal — because she isn’t a citizen.

“If I were to have kids, my kids would not be U.S. citizens. As someone who has gone through undergrad, law school and now practices here and tries to do better for the community, it affects me directly.”

With the uncertainty of what’s to come, Carrion plans to take the advice she gives others. She says regardless of the wait times, it may be in the best interest of those looking to become a citizen to apply now.

“If you have the opportunity to go through the process and legalize here in the United States or become a lawful permanent resident or adjust to becoming a US citizen, do it.”

US Citizenship and Immigration officials say longer wait times to become a citizen are because of a surge in applications, not slower processes.

In fact, the agency as a whole has surpassed a 5-year high of people becoming citizens. In 2017 in the Tampa Bay area, 9,285 people were naturalized

In 2018, that number has increased dramatically to 16,061 people.

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