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Report: Some immigrants may not choose path to citizenship

Last week, we reported that the outline of a new immigration bill had been presented by members of Congress. Among other things, the bill would essentially provide a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants who are currently in the United States illegally, so long as they meet certain standards.

One would think that this means the country could soon add millions of citizens to its population. However, a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center indicates that it is unlikely that all immigrants will take the chance to become U.S. citizens. Instead, many could likely choose to obtain a green card or permanent residency, but not go through with naturalization, the report projected.

The projection was based on current data that indicates only about one-third of Mexican nationals who hold green cards and could become U.S. citizens actually do. The Pew Center concluded that the "analysis of current naturalization rates among Mexican legal immigrants suggests that creating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally does not mean all would pursue that option."

However, the reason green card-holders choose not to pursue citizenship is seldom because they don't want to, the Pew report said. In fact, another Pew survey indicated that only about 7 percent of Hispanic immigrants who have the ability to apply for citizenship said they didn't want to become U.S. citizens. The other 93 percent said they planned on it.

Oftentimes, the cost of the naturalization process (which is close to $700) as well as the testing requirements stand in the way, the Pew report stated.

Backing up the theory further, a 2010 study by the Department of Homeland Security indicated that just around 40 percent of the 2.7 million immigrants who were granted amnesty in 1985 had become citizens by 2009.

Source: Fox News Latino, "Even With Legalization, Undocumented Immigrants Turn Down Citizenship," Feb. 4, 2013

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