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Citizenship And Naturalization

True Citizenship And Naturalization Stories: Obstacles On The Road To Becoming A United States Citizen

Citizenship is the end goal of most immigrants who want to live in the U.S. In other words, naturalization is the American way for long-term legalization. It should remain that way.

The path to success is not always straight-forward. Various problems can and do arise before, during, and even after the citizenship application process.

Feel free to explore the news articles and posts in this section. As a U.S. citizenship and naturalization lawyer, I have hand-picked true stories from around the internet illustrating pitfalls and traps, barriers and obstacles which immigrants encounter on their road to success and life in America.

In this immigration news roundup, you’ll learn about:

  • Citizenship After A Missed Generation
  • Flaws In Donald Trump’s Attack On Birthright Citizenship
  • A Military Service Path To U.S. Citizenship
  • Citizenship Denied Over 20 Years . . . On A Law Which Does Not Exist
  • A 97 Year Road To U.S. Citizenship
  • Filing Fees For Citizenship: Too Much To Ask?

Citizenship After A Missed Generation

Although it doesn’t happen often, the detention of U.S. citizens who are unable to prove their United States citizenship takes place more than the public suspects.

The recent news story of Lorenzo Palma reminded me about this sad reality.

I recall, about ten years ago, assisting a Mexican immigrant, Jorge, who was relatively clueless about his citizen status – win citizenship.

He was in his mid-40s.

Read More Here: Overcoming A Skipped Family Generation Of Citizenship

Flaws In Donald Trump’s Attack On Birthright Citizenship

Presidential candidate Donald Trump considers the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship to be the biggest magnet for undocumented immigrants. However, as Cedar Attanasio recently noted, many holes exist in Trump’s his position.

15 Reasons Why Trump’s Plan To End Birthright Citizenship Is A Horrible Idea
Cedar Attansasio, The Moderate Voice, August 18, 2015

Donald Trump doesn’t want children born in America to get U.S. citizenship if their parents are in the country illegally, as a part of his 100-200 billion dollar deportation plan . Birthright citizenship, legally known as jus soli, guarantees the right of citizenship to people born on American soil. Birthright is currently guaranteed by the 14th amendment.

Trump calls birthright citizenship the “ biggest magnet ” for immigration, saying that it is the biggest driver of illegal immigration.

Attansasio is too nice. I don’t just think Trump’s notions are horrible. I think they’re fundamentally flawed and border on being a Looney Tunes type of political insanity.

Here are the main points which I think are most critical in showing why the Trump Plan is off-base:

  • The “magnet” argument has never been proven: there is no no empirical evidence that ending citizenship rights would act as a deterrent to unauthorized immigration.
  • Repealing the 14th Amendment might disenfranchise second-generation immigrants, but it doesn’t mean they won’t be in the country; it’s no magic deportation wand.
  • The undocumented population in the country would swell. The currently number of immigrants living in the shadows would grow to 16 million if the law were limited to children with two parents in the country illegally; if it included just one parent living here without permission, the number would be about 25 million.
  • The economy suffers when immigrants must stay in the shadows. No matter what skills they have, the ones that are here generally do better and contribute more to society when they have the legal protection of citizenship or a visa.
  • Anchor babies mythology. U.S. citizens children cannot sponsor parents until they are 21 years old, making anyone using the anchor baby scheme unlikely to succeed.

Many other GOP candidates for president have jumped in to support the misguided approach asserted by Trump, to one degree or another. All of them need to take a closer look at the legal reality facing undocumented immigrant parents of so-called anchor babies.

A Military Service Path To U.S. Citizenship

Under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, immigrants with special medical and language skills are eligible to become naturalized citizens immediately after they complete basic training.

MANVI began as a pilot program in 2008 with a annual cap of 1,000 enrollees.

Recently, the government announced a new push focused on attracting young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and qualify for work temporary work authorization and suspension of deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Army Expands Program That Expedites U.S. Citizenship For Recruits With Sought-After Skills
Adolfo Flores, BuzzFeed News Reporter, April 1, 2015

The maximum number of recruits for the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program increased from 1,500 to 3,000 for the 2015 fiscal year, said Army spokesman Hank Minitrez.

Next year, the program is going to be expanded to up to 5,000 recruits. Since launching in 2008, the Army has recruited about 4,000 soldiers through the MANVI program.

“The MAVNI program has been extremely successful in filling our ranks with highly qualified soldiers who fill critical shortages,” Minitrez said.

Despite the obvious needs of the Army, several immigrant reform opponents have taken a strong stance against MAVNI. Most of these critics are also opposed to DACA and have blocked actions to enact the DREAM Act, for which military service has long been one of the options to earn legal residency status.

Several legalization advocates are likewise critical of the program. They cite false promises made to immigrants who served in war and combat.

At present, several hundred immigrant military veterans face deportation charges. They, too, had dreams of U.S. citizenship when they joined the armed services. Many started the paperwork. But their paperwork was not processed due to bureaucratic nightmares and errors. What safeguards now exist, they ask, to protect against similar outcomes for the immigrant youth of today?

Citizenship Denied Over 20 Years . . . On A Law Which Does Not Exist

This story discusses an error of huge proportions.

I agree with the judge. How could the government cite a law which doesn’t exist?

A few heads should be rolling and the pink slips should be issued.

Even as a long time citizenship attorney with over 20 years experience, I find it’s staggering to imagine that to deny legalization to immigrants, how far our nation’s immigration authorities will go . . . and it’s amazing this gentleman was willing to fight so long and so hard in opposition.

Applicants Wrongly Denied U.S. Citizenship
Yahoo News, Christopher Sherman, September 24, 2013

For more than two decades, Sigifredo Saldana Iracheta insisted he was a U.S. citizen, repeatedly explaining to immigration officials that he was born to an American father and a Mexican mother in a city just south of the Texas border.

Year after year, the federal government rejected his claims, deporting him at least four times and at one point detaining him for nearly two years as he sought permission to join his wife and three children in South Texas.

In rejecting Saldana’s bid for citizenship, the government sought to apply an old law that cited Article 314 of the Mexican Constitution, which supposedly dealt with legitimizing out-of-wedlock births. But there was a problem: The Mexican Constitution has no such article.

The question now becomes whether the Department of Homeland Security will continue to fight this case.

Any bets?

A 97 Year Road To U.S. Citizenship

Some people never quit. Here is an interesting story about a woman who, at the age of 99, finally became a U.S. citizen.

At times, people come into my office assuming the road to citizenship is an easy path.

They’ve been led to believe that since they have been permanent residents for over five years, the next step is automatic. It’s not.

Take Elia Guzman de Salinas.

An immigrant from Mexico, she entered the U.S. at the age of two. A few days ago, she became a naturalized citizen.

At the age of 99.

99-Year-Old Woman Sworn In As An American Citizen
Valley Central, Joey Horta, August 14, 2013

It was standing room only at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building for the ceremony.

Surrounded by her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren, Elia raised her right hand and was sworn in.

“Before I died, I wanted to accomplish my dream of becoming a U.S. citizen, and thanks be to God I was able to reach that goal,” Elia said.

Elisa said she’s looking forward to enjoying the rights that many Americans take for granted, especially voting.

Elisa’s case demonstrates the road to naturalization is not simple.

On the other hand, to the best of my knowledge, Elisa’s 97 year journey must set the record for longest wait.

Congratulations, Elisa.

Filing Fees For Citizenship: Too Much To Ask?

For many immigrants, especially those working in low wage positions, the cost of $680 is a lot of money.

Fee critics assert the filing cost is a barrier for the working poor, relegating naturalization as a privilege only affordable by wealthy immigrants. They add that the increase from $225.00 at the beginning of the George W. Bush administration to $680.00 creates a systemic barrier to poorer and less educated immigrants.

Explainer: Why It Costs Immigrants $680 To Apply For Naturalization
Katy Steinmetz, Time, July 9, 2013

Immigration reform is a numbers game. And one of those numbers is $680, the price of applying for naturalization, the process that turns green card-holders into citizens. Politicians like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are decrying that number, saying the cost is too high. Non-profits, encouraging the country’s 8.5 million permanent residents to go down that path, are subsidizing that fee. So where does that total come from, and where does the money go?

However, there are at least three reasons which support a view that even at $680, the fees for naturalization are not unreasonable.

First, the immigrant view. Citizenship fees are an investment in one’s future, not a mere expense draining one’s bank account. A person’s future in the U.S. is more secure, allowing them more economic and social opportunities – than if that individual remains a lawful permanent resident.

This is especially true for those who one day slip up and commit an offense. Lawful permanent residents remain at constant danger of losing their immigration status.

Not so with naturalized citizens.

Second, the immigration advocate view. Filing fees for naturalization are significantly lower than filing fees to become a lawful permanent resident. Moreover, an immigrant does not go from undocumented status to citizenship. There is a stop-over at lawful permanent resident status for a minimum of 3 – 5 years.

During that period, the immigrant is able to legally work in the U.S. Their wages, in most instances, will be greater than those of undocumented immigrants filing for green cards. With a little planning, the $680 can be saved or borrowed, and there are organizations which will subsidize individuals who meet the financial guidelines.

Third, the government view. Someone one has to pay for the government machinery which processes the applications of would-be citizens. There is enough snide criticism made about immigrants already. Why give opponents more fuel for the fire? Why ask for government assistance at this stage, when full citizenship is only one step away? (Presumably, the fees also help to underwrite the costs of creating a more efficient naturalization bureaucracy . . . and that’s definitely a good outcome.)

Now, what about when attorney fees are added? That’s another question.

Many lawyers will negotiate their fees as well as the terms for payment. Immigrants should let attorney fees deter them.

Overall, since the value of citizenship in the long-term far exceeds the actual dollars to be spent on filing fees, I don’t feel the $680 fee is too high.

Immigration News Curation By Carlos Batara