03/07/2013 11:38:10 AM EST
On Path to Citizenship, Some Immigrants Keep Green Card, Never Naturalize
"As lawmakers wrangle over changes that could offer a path to citizenship to many of the estimated 11 million immigrants who are here illegally, not all immigrants who become eligible actually go through with naturalization. Often, the immigrant journey simply ends with permanent legal residency. In 2011, 61 percent of eligible immigrants became citizens, according to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center. But among Mexicans, who are by far the largest group of immigrants in the country, the citizenship rate was just 36 percent. Central Americans also had low rates; the highest rates were among Southeast Asians, Cubans and Russians, perhaps because many from these countries came as refugees. Refugees, who are generally unable to return to their home countries, naturalize at a higher-than-average rate. Other factors include length of U.S. residency (immigrants who have lived here longer are more likely to naturalize) and income level (higher incomes correlate with higher naturalization rates). People from English-speaking countries are more likely to become citizens, as are those with immediate family members back home. Asians are more likely to become citizens than Latinos, while people from countries near the United States tend to naturalize at lower rates." - Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post, Mar. 3, 2013.