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New citizenship plan could triple application costs

Citizenship is expensive, and with proposed immigration reform, the process could soon become even pricier for already financially strapped immigrants. Official reports show that the new citizenship overhaul could impose fines as high as $2,000 in addition to hundreds of dollars in application fees. Millions of immigrants choose to opt out of citizenship because of the financial costs associated with the process. A 2012 Pew Hispanic Center study shows that the top reasons for failing to pursue citizenship are poor understanding of English and lack of financial resources.

One Texas woman said she prioritized saving for citizenship because, "You have more rights when you are a citizen..." However, as soon as she started the citizenship class, she realized that she would have to make sacrifices for the process to work. She was able to save up $680 for the application by picking up nighttime babysitting jobs in Houston, but it took her months to get the money. Others say they will have to save for the better part of a year to obtain the money for the current fees; a hike in the cost of citizenship classes would make the process less accessible to millions.

Experts say that immigrants should not be priced out of the market. The fees should be high enough to avoid the appearance of general amnesty while still considering the financial situation in which many immigrants find themselves. The proposed 13-year citizenship process would involve a variety of fees and costs, which would require payments up to $2,000 throughout the many steps.

Illegal immigrants deserve a fair and reasonable path to U.S. citizenship. Those who are suffering because of unfair decisions may benefit from the assistance of a qualified Texas attorney.

Source: The Associated Press, "Immigration reform may hike cost of citizenship" No author given, Feb. 03, 2014

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