SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) has released a
report touting the benefits of citizenship.

The study shows 74 percent, or 23.1 million immigrants who were eligible to become U.S. citizens have done so. Financial resources, English language proficiency and education are all factors in an immigrants’ likelihood of becoming a U.S. citizen.

“It’s very important in this country for immigrants to become U.S. citizens,” said Robert Warren, one of study’s authors. “If they are naturalized, their median household income is about $25,000 higher than those who are eligible but haven’t naturalized.”

The report endorses the provisions of the U.S. Citizenship Act that would place undocumented and temporary residents on a path to permanent residence and citizenship, reduce family and employment-based visa backlogs, and eliminate disincentives and barriers to permanent residence.

It also proposes additional measures to increase access to permanent residence and naturalization.

“They will be able to vote and they’ll be able to determine the future of the country, even though the Constitution covers everybody in the country, and I think there’s a lot of security in becoming a citizen,” said Warren, who believes the federal government should do more to streamline the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.

“The entire process would be much more fluid, much more understandable, they could just pay their fees, take tests and become U.S. citizens without too much red tape,” said Warren. “There are eight million people who are eligible, mostly in California and Texas,” he said.

Warren says having more U.S. citizens will benefit the entire country.

“Economically, it’s very much to our benefit for people to become U.S. citizens because there is a wage premium, people make more money and what that means for our country is that we collect a lot more in taxes. When millions of people become U.S. citizens we could collect far more in taxes because of their higher incomes.”

Some of the study’s findings include:

  • Three states – Indiana, Arizona, and Texas – had naturalization rates of 67 percent, well below the national average of 74 percent.
  • Fresno, California had the lowest naturalization rate (58 percent) of the 25 metropolitan (metro) areas with the largest eligible-to-naturalize populations, followed by Phoenix at 66 percent and San Antonio and Austin at 67 percent.
  • Four cities in California had rates of 52 to 58 percent – Salinas, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Santa Maria-Santa Barbara.
  • McAllen, Laredo, and Brownsville had the lowest naturalization rates in Texas.
  • Immigrants from Japan had the lowest naturalization rate (47 percent) by country of origin, followed by four countries in the 60 to 63 percent range – Mexico, Canada, Honduras, and the United Kingdom.
  • Guatemala and El Salvador each had rates of 67 percent.
  • Median household income was $25,800, or 27 percent, higher for the naturalized population, compared to the population that had not naturalized (after an average of 23 years in the US).
  • In the past 10 years, naturalization rates for China and India have fallen, and rates for Mexico and Central America have increased (keeping duration of residence constant).

The Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates on behalf of more restrictive immigration policies, doesn’t believe the U.S. Citizenship Act is going to become law.

In a report published in February, CIS’s Mark Krikorian said, “Congressional Democrats and their advocacy groups know that. But the clock is ticking and they don’t want a replay of what happened under Obama, when no immigration legislation was passed.”

Instead, CIS believes that as it did during the first 100 days, the Biden administration will primarily focus on rescinding Trump administration policies, “and take bold executive action instead of waiting on Congress to act.”

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