National: Drive-up US citizenship eases backlog, but new threat looms | Ben Fox and Mike Householder/Associated Press
A 60-year-old U.K. citizen drove into a Detroit parking garage on a recent afternoon, lowered the window of her SUV to swear an oath, and left as a newly minted American. It took less than 30 minutes. Anita Rosenberger is among thousands of people around the country who have taken the final step to citizenship this month under COVID-19 social-distancing rules that have turned what has long been a patriotic rite of passage into something more like a visit to a fast-food restaurant. “It was a nice experience in spite of the fact that I was in the car by myself with a mask on,” said Rosenberger, a sales manager for an electronics component company from suburban Detroit. “And I will say that I will remember this.” Similar drive-thru ceremonies are being held around the country, but perhaps for not much longer. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says a budget crisis could force the agency to furlough nearly three-quarters of its workforce, severely curtailing operations as tens of thousands of people wait to become citizens. That could have potential political consequences, especially in states such as Michigan and Florida where the number of newly naturalized Americans already exceeds the narrow margin of victory for President Donald Trump in 2016.