Dozens of new Iowans became U.S. Citizens today (Friday) at a ceremony in Des Moines. Jerry Heinauer, District Director of Immigration and Naturalization for the Iowa-Nebraska District, says he sees the number of naturalized citizens remaining relatively steady despite changes in the economy, international events, and other factors. Heinauer says for the last few years, nationwide we’ve been naturalizing about 500-thousand people a year. Heinauer says in Iowa we’ve been able to reduce the backlog of case as well as processing times, which he says was an initiative backed by President Bush. Five years ago there was a backlog of 35-hundred applications for citizenship waiting to be processed in this district. Heinauer says it’s been a long road for all the people sworn in today.They’ve had to be a “lawful permanent resident” of the U.S. for five years, and also prove their understanding of the history and government of the US by taking a test in it. They must be able to read and speak English, and “be a person of good moral character.” 222 people took the oath of citizenship this morning at Hoyt Sherman Place, a historic mansion in Des Moines.
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