Only about a third of the 5.4 million Mexican immigrants who are eligible to become U.S. citizens have done so, a rate much lower than that of other legal immigrants, according to a report released Monday by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Mexicans are the largest pool of eligible immigrants, accounting for almost a third of the 12 million legal permanent residents in the United States. But while 68 percent of eligible non-Mexican immigrants have become citizens, only 36 percent of eligible Mexicans have, said the report, titled “The Path Not Taken.”
The study was based on data from the U.S. census and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and on a nationwide bilingual telephone survey of 1,765 Latinos, more than half of whom were immigrants.
The low rate of Mexican naturalization is not from lack of interest: 94 percent of Mexican legal permanent residents said they would become citizens if they could. They cited barriers such as a lack of proficiency in English or fears of not passing the citizenship test, and the $680 application fee, which is nearly double what it was until 2007. Around 12 percent of Mexican respondents said they simply had not gotten around to applying.