Has the recession affected citizenship applications?

Statistics suggest that fewer immigrants can afford the fee

An interesting article on naturalization statistics from the San Diego Union Tribune:

see the the whole article, including some interesting graphics here: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/may/23/recession-takes-toll-naturalization-numbers/

Recession takes toll on naturalization numbers

New citizenships for immigrants in county fall, tracking state and U.S. patterns

By Elizabeth Aguilera

Monday, May 23, 2011 at 1:17 p.m.

Count fewer naturalizations as another effect of the Great Recession and its aftermath.

The overall number of new citizenships for immigrants fell 12 percent in San Diego County and 17 percent nationally between 2009 and last year, according to recently released data from USCIS. The reductions follow decreases from the previous year.

Demographers at the Census Bureau and elsewhere said the sour economy was a prime driver of the trend, as more residents found the citizenship application fee unaffordable amid their tighter budgets. The total cost to apply for naturalization, which includes a biometrics fee, is currently $680.

Even with the declines, the volume of citizenships in San Diego County has tripled since 1990, with spikes in the mid-1990s and 2008.

California and the nation showed similar patterns.

The U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics attributes increases during the mid-1990s in part to the new eligibility of immigrants who gained amnesty during the 1980s. Demographers said some of the boost also stemmed from citizenship campaigns connected to the election cycle of 1996, including Latino advocacy groups that conducted naturalization drives as a response to passage of Proposition 187 in California. That legislation, which the courts struck down, denied various public services to illegal immigrants.

Another spike in 2008 resulted from a large number of permanent residents who wanted to beat the deadline for a significant hike in the application fee for Citizenship and Immigration Services, the demographers said.

During the past two decades, Mexico has remained the top country of origin for new U.S. citizens while Asia has been the continent with the greatest gain.