In a previous post, we wrote about a new report published by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) on the naturalization-eligible population in the U.S. This report contains estimates of the number of immigrants eligible to naturalize broken down by state and by national origin. The report provides useful demographic information about potential new citizens.
Now, data published subsequently offer service providers the opportunity to zoom in on certain specific regions to find the number and demographic characteristics of immigrants eligible for naturalization. More on that in a moment.
According to the report, most of the naturalization-eligible population is in a good position to naturalize, if they could be set on a course to do so. More than three-quarters have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or more; two-thirds speak English well, very well or exclusively; nearly four in five have incomes above the poverty level; and three-quarters have access to the Internet.
However, other patterns in the data indicate barriers for some immigrants. One-third of naturalization-eligible immigrants have lived in the U.S. for more than 25 years but have not naturalized. Three million have less than a high school degree, and 1.2 million do not speak English. Approximately 1.8 million have below-poverty incomes.
The report reinforces other research that has shown a link between income and naturalization, noting that the median income for naturalized immigrants is higher than that for the naturalization-eligible in almost every category listed (period of entry, language spoken at home and ability to speak English, educational attainment, etc.).
The report makes some recommendations based on some of the more troubling findings. One is to create a streamlined alternative minimum set of requirements for the naturalization of very long-resident LPRs. There should be greater investment in English language instruction for the 1.2 million naturalization-eligible immigrants who do not speak English well. Fee waivers should be expanded, or fees reduced, given the low annual income of so many people who are eligible.
The data the CMS published subsequently estimate the naturalization-eligible population in 2,332 public-use microdata areas (PUMAs). PUMAs are areas defined by the Census that comprise at least 100,000 people. These data will allow service providers to learn a great deal about the people they are trying to reach. For example, the CMS estimates that the PUMA that includes Berkeley and Albany, California, includes more than 4,700 immigrants eligible to naturalize. Of those, 1,300 speak English less than “very well,” fewer than 400 have less than a high school education and fewer than 300 live below the poverty level.
As noted in the report, the new data on the naturalization-eligible should help service providers make decisions about how they target their outreach and application and education services.