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Illinois Group Says High Fees Limit Immigrant Naturalization

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SPRINGFIELD, IL (IRN) - A group dedicated to helping immigrants is calling on Congress to take a look at the impact high fees have on immigrants eligible for citizenship.

The high fees to apply for naturalization are preventing many immigrants from doing so, according to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Fees in 1997 totaled $95. Today it costs an immigrant $675 in fees related to naturalization. That is a barrier to citizenship, says ICIRR policy director Fred Tsao.

“This data very clearly indicates that yes there is a price sensitivity,” Tsao said. “The price of citizenship is having a direct impact on the numbers of people who are applying and most dramatically this impact is being felt among less-educated, more recent and specifically Mexican immigrants.”

ICIRR wants Congress to examine the current fee structure and see if it can be adjusted for low-wage earners.

There are currently about 8.5 million immigrants in the U.S. who are eligible but have not yet taken the final step of naturalization.

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