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Study: Vast majority of immigrants want to become citizens, few do

Study: Vast majority of immigrants want to become citizens, few do

WASHINGTON – More than 93 percent of Hispanic immigrants who are in this country illegally say they want to apply for citizenship, but fewer than half of whose who can apply do so, according to research by the Pew Hispanic Center.

A June study by the center found that only 46 percent of Hispanic immigrants eligible to become citizens have applied, compared with 71 percent who are not Hispanic.

Experts said they are not surprised by the numbers, noting that many people are not applying because the application process is costly and cumbersome.

“It’s thousands of dollars in fees, and also thousands of dollars in legal expenses,” said Ian Danley, the Arizona director for the Campaign for Citizenship. “That’s a fee many families cannot surmount.”

Danley, who also works at Neighborhood Ministries, a Phoenix church that helps families who are applying for citizenship, said many people need an attorney’s help .

Petra Falcon, the executive director for Promise Arizona, an organization that helps immigrant families, said many people aren’t applying because of the requirement to speak English.

While many want to learn English, they may not have access to classes to help them learn. Only a few churches offer classes in English, and adult education programs do not provide classes, she said.

Ultimately adult education in Arizona needs to be reformed and expanded to help those that are willing to learn, she said.




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