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Institute for Latino Studies report examines Mexican naturalization

Author: Arts and Letters


Fewer Mexican permanent legal residents in Chicago become U.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 Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) and the Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC).

Titled “The Naturalization Trail: Mexican Nationality and U.S. Citizenship,” the research was conducted in an effort to better understand the low percentage of U.S. citizenship among Mexican immigrants nationwide. It found that strong ties to Mexico, procedural barriers and low perceived value all act as deterrents to Mexican naturalization. It also determined that immigrants’ main reasons for becoming U.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 in Illinois in 2000, the report analyzed the responses of Mexican immigrants in Chicago to uncover any correlation between naturalization percentages and U.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; andMara de los Angeles Torres, director of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Institute for Latino Studies was established in 1999 to promoteunderstanding and appreciation of the Latino experience in the UnitedStates through 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,

Originally published by Shannon Chapla at on July 12, 2006.