Looming Fee Increase Could Thwart Many U.S. Citizenship Applications

Looming Fee Increase Could Thwart Many U.S. Citizenship Applications


The Department of Homeland Security issued a policy last year that would deny applicants for permanent residency based on their use of public benefits, including food stamps or Medicaid. A federal appeals court blocked that rule in several states this month.

Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said the new fees would disproportionately target immigrants from the poorest nations, such as those from Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and South and Central America — largely immigrants of color.

“This administration has been slicing and dicing and finding different ways to make it hard for immigrants to be included in this country,” Ms. Hincapié said. “This is about Trump trying to restrict who is considered worthy of being an American, and time and time again, he has sent the message to immigrants, especially low-income immigrants, that if you are not from Norway, you are not wanted in our country.”

To Ms. Rubio, that message is apparent. For now, she remains at home recovering from the coronavirus, with lots of water, fruit and vitamins. Her headaches have subsided and her sense of smell has returned, but she is still without work. Ms. Rubio sighed as she described what the virus had done to her prospects of becoming a citizen. Like many others, she has no idea how she will find the money before October, when those prospects will dwindle even further.

Citizenship would change her life in many ways, Ms. Rubio said through a translator. It would enable her to save for her retirement, visit her family in Mexico for extended periods and bring her parents to the United States. She said she was hopeful that her parents would join her in Washington State some day after she became a citizen.

Among the main reasons for her desire to become a citizen, Ms. Rubio said, was that she wanted to have a say in the political process that had made obtaining her naturalization so difficult.

“First,” she said, “I’m going to vote.”



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