Pathway to Citizenship for Documented Mexican Immigrants Remains a Road Less Traveled
Recent hearings on immigration reform aim to produce a bill that might resolve the status of 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. But based on a report by the Pew Hispanic Center, nearly two-thirds of Mexican immigrants who are documented are not yet U.S. citizens.
While Mexicans are ranked as the largest group of eligible immigrants for citizenship, they have the lowest naturalization rates from all Latin American and Caribbean countries with a nearly 30 percent difference when compared to immigrants hailing from Europe and elsewhere. Comprehensive immigration reform would help to close that naturalization gap.
“The way that Mexico currently is really forces or just ends up being a natural option for immigrants coming over and pursing a better life,” Boston University student Cristian Martinez told Campus Progress. Martinez has a dual citizenship in Mexico and here in the United States, but acknowledges the difficulty of obtaining citizenship.
“My mom is currently in the process of getting my grandmother and uncle US citizenship from Juarez, Chihuahua, which was recently devastated from violence of drugs,” said Martinez.
In a recent survey by Pew Latino, nine in 10 documented permanent residents say they would naturalize if they could. Among the top reasons preventing documented residents from naturalizing were listed as: language and other personal barriers, have not tried yet or uninterested, or financial and administrative barriers.
“If the path to citizenship was a little bit easier I think more people would be able to take advantage of it,” Metropolitan State University of Denver student Sarahi Hernandez told Campus Progress. Hernandez who was moved from Mexico to the United States at eight-months-old is currently going through the process of deferred action.
“There is a path to citizenship, but not everyone can benefit from it,” Hernandez said.
Other personal barriers keeping Latino legal immigrants from naturalizing include finding the citizenship test too difficult or the cost too high. The current cost for the application is $680, according to the Pew report.
In an interview with NBC Latino, 25-year-old college student, Paula Galeacci, said she does not know enough about the process, and doesn’t have enough money to apply. “My application process was slowed down because of the bad economy,” she told NBC Latino.
Uncertainty still remains in the ongoing discussions on immigration reform, an uncertainty that may hinder or assist the vast amount of people here legally but still waiting patiently in line to become full-fledged citizens.
Melissa Adan is a reporter for Campus Progress.
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