Afro Connect: Black Immigrants and Naturalization

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Approximately one-fifth of the people living in the United States were born abroad.

Immigrants make up the largest percentage of the population in the United States as compared to other countries. Almost every country in the world is represented among U.S. immigrants, making up a remarkably diverse population. According to the White House, there are more than nine million immigrants that are eligible to become US citizens. United States citizens and non-citizens living in the country have many rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution and laws. Certain rights are exclusive to U.S. citizens. The most important is that US citizens have the right to vote.

The key benefits to Naturalization are:

  • Stop having to pay USCIS immigration fees. 
  • Removal of the fear of deportation from minor drug violation or minor infraction.
  • Eligible for federal jobs.
  • Eligible to hold government elected office. 
  • Ease of travel on US Passport – Visa Waivers.
  • Able to sponsor family members. 
  • Voting.

Among all immigrants, Black immigrants are more likely to be naturalized and have strong English language proficiency. According to Pew Research, roughly six in ten foreign-born Blacks (58%) are U.S. citizens, compared with 49% of immigrants overall. In some key states, the Black immigrant population is rapidly growing. The Caribbean region has been the most common country of immigration for Blacks in New York, Florida, and New Jersey, but Black immigration to Texas is on the rise, primarily coming from Africa.

In the United States, Texas has the largest number of immigrants from Africa.

There is currently a backlog of 700,000 applications for Naturalization pending with the immigration service. Most places take 12 to 18 months to complete a process that should only take 6 months. Prior to Covid, delays persisted. The topic next week will be things to consider before filing for naturalization and how to get started.

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