NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Immigrants Shunning U.S. Citizenship

October 19, 1999

A smaller proportion of immigrants are seeking citizenship than at any time in the last century, according to government statistics.

  • Only 35 percent of foreign-born people in the U.S. in 1997 were naturalized citizens -- compared to 64 percent in 1970.
  • At the height of the nation's last great wave of immigration in the early part of this century, about half of the foreign-born population nationally had become citizens.
  • Only 30 percent of foreign-born people who had been living in the U.S. more than two decades were citizens in 1997.
  • Just over 53 percent of people from Europe and slightly more than 44 percent of those Asia from are naturalized -- but fewer than 15 percent of Mexicans, who account for nearly 30 percent of the foreign-born population, go through the process.

A Census Bureau study says the foreign-born population climbed to a record 25.8 million in 1997 -- with nine million naturalized citizens and 16.7 million non-citizens.

Source: Philip P. Pan, "Fewer Immigrants Are U.S. Citizens," Washington Post, October 15, 1999.


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