Immigrant naturalization has skyrocketed over the last 50 years, Dr. Marc Rosenblum of the Department of Homeland Security told a packed room in the Rayburn House Office Building during a Congressional briefing conducted Thursday by the Population Association of America (PAA).
More than 700,000 immigrants were naturalized in 2017 compared to just 104,902 in 1967. That increase was a result of several factors, including the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which, among other things legalized undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982.
DHS has seen bumps in naturalization applications in specific years, as well, with both financial and civic factors motivating immigrants to seek.
We see big spikes of naturalized people in election years as well as people hurrying up to file their naturalization papers before announced fee increases go into effect, Dr. Rosenblum said.
Beyond that, Asia has overtaken Europe as the largest region of origin for naturalizations, in large part due to 1965 amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act, he said.
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The briefing, led by immigration policy experts including Dr. Jeffrey Passel of the Pew Research Center and Dr. Guillermina Jasso of New York University, along with Dr. Rosenblum, provided a scientific look into the peoples making the journey to our country and shared research findings regarding the immigrant experience in the United States.
Dr. Jasso offered context on the children of undocumented immigrants showing that 68 percent of those children aged 8-12 were fluent in English. In fact, the fluency was even higher than among those who had parents with legal status. Dr. Jasso said this suggests this is because the children gained experience interpreting for their parents.
The Population Association of America (PAA) is a nonprofit, scientific, professional organization established in 1930 to support the scientific study of the human population. PAA members include demographers, sociologists, economists, public health professionals and other individuals interested in research and education in the population field. PAA membership has grown to 3,000 reflecting professional interest in the population field.