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Many immigrants in U.S. can not afford citizenship fees

While many people across the country celebrated America earlier this month, a few thousand people had something extra special to celebrate. The week of July 4, about 9,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens in ceremonies across the country. Immigrants from all over the world, from all walks of life, passed the citizenship test and participated in a swearing-in ceremony to make them official citizens of America.

However, many immigrants have not yet made the jump from green-card holder to U.S. citizen. Out of the 12.6 million green-card holders in America, about 40 percent never even apply for citizenship. According to the Pew Hispanic center, Mexicans make up one-third of the green-card holders but are the least likely to become citizens. Experts believe that one of the main reasons for this is an increase in application costs. In 2007, the application fee increased to $680, an 85 percent increase. For families, these applications can easily cost thousands of dollars. While some immigrants can apply for a fee waiver, families, retirees and others do not qualify.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is making an effort to reduce some of these fees. These efforts, combined with a national campaign in a few major cities around the country, will hopefully encourage more residents to apply for citizenship.

There also appears to be a language barrier that prevents immigrants from seeking citizenship. Many Latino U.S. residents are worried about their English speaking skills, as well as the difficulty of the citizenship test. Some immigrants may also be unwilling to navigate the time-consuming citizenship process. The complicated process may be a deterrent for some Louisiana immigrants, but many others are more than willing to deal with it to become citizens of the United States.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Thousands dream of U.S. citizenship, but can't afford the fees," Lomi Kriel, July 3, 2014

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