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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. Read More

National: Suit seeks immediate citizenship for those waiting on oath | Associated Press

Scores of people waiting to recite the oath of citizenship — the final step in the citizenship process — should be naturalized immediately so that they have time to register to vote this fall, immigrant rights groups argued in a lawsuit filed in Philadelphia federal court this week. The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and other groups filed the suit Wednesday on behalf of legal permanent residents whose applications for naturalization have already been approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ field office in Philadelphia. The organizations say their clients are among thousands nationwide who have had their oath ceremony cancelled or not scheduled due to the pandemic. They argue that federal law allows the courts to expedite the naturalization process during special circumstances. The organizations say the courts should authorize “judicial oath ceremonies or immediate administrative naturalization by USCIS” to assure that all approved candidates for naturalization are sworn in by late September. Read More

Australia: Foreign affairs minister accuses New Zealand opposition of trying to bring down government | The Guardian

Australia and New Zealand have become embroiled in an extraordinary diplomatic spat over claims the New Zealand opposition colluded with the Australian Labor party (ALP) in an attempt “to try and bring down the government”. During a febrile day of politics in both countries, Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said New Zealand’s opposition party was threatening the stability of a usually robust partnership between the two nations. She said she would find it “very hard to build trust” if New Zealand’s opposition Labour party were to win the general election in September. Her comments came only 24 hours after it was revealed that Australia’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, held New Zealand citizenship and may be ineligible to sit in parliament under the Australian constitution, which disqualifies dual nationals. Malcolm Turnbull’s government currently commands a majority of one seat in the House of Representatives. Read More