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Drive-up US citizenship eases backlog, but new threat looms

A budget crisis at the citizenship agency is threatening to stall ceremonies again.
Credit: AP
In this Friday, June 26, 2020 photo, U.S. District Judge Laurie Michelson, left, administers the Aath of Citizenship to Hala Baqtar during a drive-thru naturalization service in a parking structure at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters on Detroit's east side. The ceremony is a way to continue working as the federal courthouse is shut down due to Coronavirus. The U.S. has resumed swearing in new citizens but the oath ceremonies aren't the same because of COVID-19 and a budget crisis at the citizenship agency threatens to stall them again. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DETROIT — The U.S. has resumed swearing in new citizens, but the traditional oath ceremonies aren't the same because of COVID-19. 

Thousands of people are participating in drive-up ceremonies intended to preserve social distancing. Now a budget crisis at the citizenship agency is threatening to stall ceremonies again.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has warned that it might be forced to place nearly three-quarters of its workforce on furlough next month, severely curtailing operations. 

Tens of thousands of people could be left waiting to becoming citizens — and potentially new voters ahead of November's elections. 

Credit: AP
In this June 26, 2020, photo cars line up during a drive-thru naturalization service in a parking structure at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters on Detroit's east side. The ceremony is a way to continue working as the federal courthouse is shut down due to Coronavirus. The U.S. has resumed swearing in new citizens but the oath ceremonies aren't the same because of COVID-19 and a budget crisis at the citizenship agency threatens to stall them again. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Credit: AP
In this June 26, 2020, photo cars line up during a drive-thru naturalization service in a parking structure at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters on Detroit's east side. The ceremony is a way to continue working as the federal courthouse is shut down due to Coronavirus. The U.S. has resumed swearing in new citizens but the oath ceremonies aren't the same because of COVID-19 and a budget crisis at the citizenship agency threatens to stall them again. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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