Report: Promising New Americans Being Priced Out of U.S. Citizenship

Advocates launch ‘Becoming Americans’ campaign calling on Congress, U.S.C.I.S. to support legal “Green Card” holder immigrants pursuing dream of American citizenship.


Washington, D.C. — On Thursday, February 14, 2013, a group of researchers and immigrant advocacy organizations will release a report, “Nurturing Naturalization: Could Lowering the Fee Help?” This report was conducted by the University of Southern California Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) and commissioned by the National Partnership for New Americans.

The report indicates that the $680 naturalization fee has become a major barrier to applying for U.S. citizenship for legal immigrants in low-wage jobs, a group that overwhelmingly desires to become American.

The National Partnership for New Americans and the National Immigration Forum will announce the “Becoming Americans” campaign to allow hardworking immigrants to pursue their dream of becoming U.S. citizens. The advocates are calling on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.) to examine its fee structure and to reduce the costs of U.S. citizenship, especially for the working poor.

The groups also will call on Congress to recognize the value of citizenship by investing in immigrant integration and putting naturalization fees within reach for our would-be newest Americans.

The “Nurturing Naturalization” report builds on a report released last week by the Pew Hispanic Center (“The Path Not Taken”). Both reports indicate that the American Dream of citizenship has become unaffordable for many immigrants to the U.S. — especially Mexican immigrants.

The Pew report further indicates that fully 93 percent of Latino immigrants would become U.S. citizens if they could afford to do so. The new USC report goes a step further, exploring why citizenship is beyond reach for so many, the high cost.

The current immigration debate whirls around whether Congress will create a “path to citizenship” for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

But few are paying attention to the 8.5 million legal immigrants (“Green Card” holders) who are currently eligible and want to apply for U.S. citizenship, but who have yet to do so. 

WHAT: Telephonic Press Conference Launching “Nurturing Naturalization,” a Report about the Dramatic Impact of High Naturalization Fees

WHEN: Thursday, February 14, 10:30 a.m. PST/11:30 a.m. MST/12:30 p.m. CST/1:30 p.m. EST

Joshua Hoyt, National Partnership for New Americans Co-Chair & Chief Strategy Executive, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)

Dr. Manuel Pastor, Co-Director, Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California
Margarita Gutierrez, a Mexican immigrant and college graduate living in Portland, Ore., who has delayed her citizenship due to the high naturalization fee

Angelica Salas, Executive Director, The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum
Omar Duque, CEO, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Chicago


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