During my early teenage years, every day after school, I would check the mail and become disappointed when there was no letter from the “Department of Homeland Security.” I came to America with my family at the age of eight, and it took our family almost eight years to become naturalized as U.S. citizens. These years were the most stressful times of my life. Day and night, my thoughts were consumed with uncertainty and fear that our family was not going to survive the path of obtaining citizenship. With my dad having no job, and my mom suffering from a uterine disease, the path to obtaining our citizenship was a “nightmare.” I remember my parents filing out numerous applications, such as “I-485” or “N-400,” writing checks that amounted to almost ten thousand dollars, paying expensive fees, and trying to remember countless facts about the U.S. government for the citizenship test. Indeed, the citizenship process is costly, utterly stressful, unfair, and because it encourages illegal immigrants to maintain their illegal status, America should reform the citizenship process to make legalization more attainable.
United States has one of the highest percentages of immigration. The majority of the immigrants that settle in America come from third world countries, which are characterized by “deep, absolute poverty and instances of great wealth in their populations, but their overall economies fall below even that of a middle-income country such as Russia” (Alters 1). Due to the poor conditions in developing countries, many immigrants decide to come to America for job opportunities that are not present in their country of origin. When applicants apply for citizenship, the application fee for citizenship acts as a barrier for their path to becoming citizens.
The high cost of application fees can prove to be an obstacle for many immigrants who are barely scrapping together the funds to support their families. In addition, to paying for lawyer, medical, and green card fees, immigrants must pay approximately $655 for each application submitted for naturalization. Support groups or “immigrant rights advocates argue they [application fees] become untenable for applicants that make little money. At $595, naturalization fees were already difficult to find for some immigrants, who also must hand over $85 for biometric fees” (Foley 1). Cleary the process can produce an economic burden on immigrant families that do not have the money to apply.
The interview with Faisal Nazir, my father, reveals the hardships that many immigrants go through in order to become citizens. When asked the question, “Approximately how much money you have spent on obtaining citizenship?” He responded with dismay, “Around $12,500” (Nazir). In addition, when asked to recall some memories about the citizenship process he said, “Well, ten years of my life were pretty much spent on obtaining citizenship: Having no job, trying to obtain loans to cover fees for applications, making numerous...