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Legal immigration dropped a staggering 34 percent last year, with an estimated 3 million fewer people receiving legal permanent status, according to an analysis released by the Migration Policy Institute last month. Using data culled from the Department of Homeland Security’s Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, MPI determined that the number of immigrants applying to become legal residents dropped 50 percent, and the number of naturalizations dipped 19 percent due to a backlog of applications. DHS attributes the processing slowdown to the new requirement of additional background checks and the decreased staff levels able to process green card applications. On a positive note, refugee admissions rebounded slightly from their 25-year low following 9/11, with more than 28,000 arrivals from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Central America. [11/8/04]

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