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USCIS is reducing when and where naturalization services are available to US troops around the world
U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services will now provide naturalization services to U.S. service members and their families at just four "hubs" one week each quarter as part of its ongoing push to close down offices around the world and "streamline and make immigration processing more efficient," the agency announced Monday.
Service members and eligible family members will now complete the naturalization process at Camp Humphreys, South Korea; U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Germany; Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy; and Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.
Those four locations were chosen because of their proximity to offices that typically provided the most naturalization services for overseas U.S. military personnel, USCIS said in the release. USCIS officers will travel to each hub one week every quarter to provide naturalization services — appointments are required, as they are now, a USCIS official told reporters.
In August, USCIS announced that all but seven of its international offices would close. As of September 30, the agency has closed offices in Moscow, Russia; Seoul, South Korea; Ciudad Jaurez, Mexico; Manila, Philippines; and Monterrey, Mexico, according to the official.
Currently, 11 other offices remain open but will close by August 2020. Those include locations in Athens, Greece; Amman, Jordan; Frankfurt, Germany; Rome, Italy; London, United Kingdom; Johannesburg, South Africa; and more.
The number of naturalization applications that USCIS received during FY2019 so far (520) has already surpassed the total number of 347 applications the agency received in FY2018.
When asked how closing down offices will make the process more efficient, a USCIS official said that they will "maximize agency resources" by having agency staff on assignment, or the State Department's Consular Affairs, handle in-person benefit requests. Things that don't require an in-person visit will be handled by domestic staff.
The USCIS official told reporters that the agency is not worried about its ability to handle the growing volume of requests for one week a quarter at only four hubs, but that if they find it's not manageable, "we will definitely revisit the possibility of adding another hub."
"You're moving from having a field office directly there, that's doing these applications as they basically come into the door," the USCIS official said. "So for instance in Seoul if they traveled...to Camp Humphreys, they would be able to schedule that on a more ad hoc basis."
"What we're doing now — and it still won't affect time frames, we think, too much — is we're basically setting up a schedule … We anticipate that it's actually not going to affect the timeframes very much and if we find that it is, or we find that there are issues, we will definitely revisit and review our procedures and see if we have to make some modifications along the way."
It's unclear if travel to these hubs will be compensated — the USCIS official said applicants will be "working with the [Defense Department] to hopefully provide some transportation to those locations," but that they are typically responsible for their own travel arrangements.
"If a service member is unable to travel to the designated hub during the week that quarter that USCIS officers will be there, the agency "will follow existing procedures and coordinate with the applicant on a case-by-case basis," according to the agency release.
When asked if the closures would to make the naturalization process harder for U.S. service members and their families, a USCIS official demurred.
"[W]e strive very, very hard to make this a seamless transition and a seamless process, and our first priority has been and always will be our military personnel."
USCIS officers plan on conducting their first hub visits atCamp Humphreys and Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka in late October and early November.
"Ensuring that the men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting the United States of America can become citizens while serving abroad is of paramount importance," USCIS acting director Cuccinelli said in the release.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.