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Immigrants already face many hurdles to U.S. citizenship. But excessive delays at the finish line are turning the naturalization marathon into a slog for hundreds of permanent residents.

U.S. law gives immigration officials 120 days to grant or deny citizenship to residents who have met all the legal requirements for citizenship, including passing their naturalization exams and interviews.

A new ACLU lawsuit asks the government to start enforcing its own rules and give prospective citizens a timely yes-or-no answer.

"The government should stick to its timetable and stop putting up roadblocks that keep people from fulfilling their dreams of citizenship," said ACLU/SC staff attorney Ranjana Natarajan, who filed a similar case last year with immigrant rights groups.

In that case, instead of fixing the problem the Department of Homeland Security opted to naturalize our nine plaintiffs in order to dismiss the case.

The new case asks the government to address the underlying cause of these unnaturally long naturalization delays: open-ended FBI "name checks" that drag on for months and years without deadlines for their completion.