‘People are not going to wait’: Why legal path to citizenship doesn’t work for many migrants

Tamara Juarez and her mother became U.S. citizens recently, ending a process that took seven years and cost about $7,000.  It has reached the point, she said, that it isn’t a true option for many. At a time when the national debate is focused on illegal immigration, Juarez, 22, said her experience highlighted how legal migration is bogged down by paperwork, high costs and language barriers. “The path to citizenship is really the path for privileged immigrants,” said Juarez, who was born in El Salvador and became a U.S. citizen last summer. She is an Arizona State University senior majoring in journalism. The Arizona Dream Act Coalition hopes to make the process less onerous by offering legal services to immigrants like Juarez and her mother.  The organization’s mission is to increase the integration of immigrants, offer aid to those applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. And this year, ADAC began assisting individuals with citizenship applications. At their office near Sky Harbor International Airport, Karina Ruiz, ADAC’s president, sees up to a dozen or more individuals a day looking for guidance on how to pursue U.S. citizenship.  As of April 2017, ADAC has assisted about 25 lawful permanent residents in starting their U.S. citizenship applications. In addition, it helped to renew 108 DACA applications and aided 24 people in applying for the first time. The Obama era policy protects from deportation immigrants brought here without authorization as children. “To us, if we don’t continue to apply, we are sending a message that ‘well, (DACA) is not needed.’ But in reality, it is very much… [Read full story]

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