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Citizenship backlog

Nearing the last step before naturalization, prospective citizens waiting for their private interviews at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Santa Ana are reflected in the glass covering a giant flag in the waiting room. Some immigration offices in Southern California are working weekends to get through a backlog of more than 180,000 people hoping to become American citizens. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
The Los Angeles district of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which spans seven Southern California counties and includes the Santa Ana office where these prospective citizens are waiting for interviews, receives more naturalization applications than any other district in the United States. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
The cost of keeping offices open on weekends for the overwhelming flood of citizenship applications is covered by application fees, which jumped from $400 to $675 last summer. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Brea resident Sarojini Pilana Liyanage swears that she will tell the truth during her immigration hearing in Santa Ana. Liyanage is a former resident of Sri Lanka and is in the final phase of her naturalization. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Immigration officials say that weekend schedules and longer hours have cut the wait for most applicants. The process is taking about nine months to a year, some officials said. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)