Institute for Latino Studies report examines Mexican naturalization

Author: Shannon Chapla


Fewer Mexican permanent legal residents inChicagobecomeU.S.citizens than immigrants from other countries with the same legal status, and they also delay naturalization an average of three years longer than other immigrant groups, according to a new report released by the University of Notre Dames Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) and the Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC).

TitledThe Naturalization Trail: Mexican Nationality and U.S. Citizenship,the research was conducted in an effort to better understand the low percentage ofU.S.citizenship among Mexican immigrants nationwide.It found that strong ties toMexico, procedural barriers and low perceived value all act as deterrents to Mexican naturalization.It also determined that immigrantsmain reasons for becomingU.S.citizens include attaining benefits for themselves and their families, opportunities for a better quality of life, family reunification, legal rights and political participation.

Taking into consideration that nearly 1 million foreign-born non-citizens resided inIllinoisin 2000, the report analyzed the responses of Mexican immigrants inChicagoto uncover any correlation between naturalization percentages andU.S.immigration policy, labor markets, and household demographics.

The report, which is based on the Chicago Area Survey (sponsored by the ILS), is the second in a series of papers to be released about a wide range of quality of life issues in the Chicago Latino community.The authors are Rob Paral, ILS fellow and consultant/writer on public policy, demographics, and human services relating to immigration and low-income populations; D. Garth Taylor, president of the MCIC; andMaría delos AngelesTorres, director of Latin American and Latino Studies at theUniversityofIllinoisatChicago.

The Institute for Latino Studies was established in 1999 to promoteunderstanding and appreciation of the Latino experience in theUnitedStatesthrough research, education and outreach. Its areas of studyinclude Latino spirituality, art, literature, history, politics andsocioeconomic conditions.

The Metro Chicago Information Center is an independent, not-for-profit research and consulting resource that provides information and insight to enhance program and planning decisions made by civic, social service and philanthropic organizations and individuals working to improve social conditions and quality of life.

* Contact: * _Sylvia Puente, ILS, 708-788-6109,

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