Barriers — financial and physical — could influence the makeup of newly naturalized Americans. After citizen application rates rose 70 percent, from $440 to $675, half as many people have applied for US citizenship in the beginning of this year compared to last year.
To become eligible for citizenship, a person must be a legal permanent resident who has lived continuously in the US for 5 years. Those that do apply sometimes use loans to foot the bill. Immigrant advocates say the fee exceeds processing costs, and they want the cost to be tied to federal minimum wage and funded by Congress.
Meanwhile, the Bush Administration wants an additional $400 million for the partially constructed 670-mile fence along the Texas-Mexico border. The fence, which impacts 480 landowners, already received a $2.1 billion apportionment from Congress in 2006.
By making citizenship more accessible to the wealthy, and spending an exorbitant amount of money on a keep-out wall, does America betray its immigrant heritage?