The Trump administration is making it more expensive to apply for citizenship

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A coalition of leading immigrant rights organizations has condemned the Trump Administration’s proposal to drastically increase the cost of applying for citizenship, a radical policy shift that would prevent millions of green card holders from beginning the naturalization process.

Applying for citizenship currently costs $725, which already makes the naturalization process too expensive for many green card holders. The new Trump administration proposal would increase the cost to the applicant by $445, pushing the total cost to $1,170 and creating an unnecessary barrier to citizenship for millions of eligible applicants.

Compounding the damage, the administration also announced plans today to eliminate a fee waiver program for lower-income green card holders. That means any naturalization applicant—regardless of how little they earn—would have to pay the new, higher fees in full. 

Another major component of the announcement is just as troubling. The Trump administration said it would transfer $200 million in fees that had been collected by USCIS, the federal agency which processes naturalization applications, to ICE, the agency that is responsible for deportations and which has carried out family separations and the administration's most hardline anti-immigration policies.

If enacted, these changes would sharply reduce the number of new naturalization applications, especially from lower-income green card holders. That will create a wealth test for citizenship, one that could exclude hundreds of thousands—and potentially millions—of otherwise eligible applicants.

STATEMENT FROM MELISSA RODGERS, DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS, IMMIGRANT LEGAL RESOURCE CENTER

“The Trump administration has been waging a coordinated assault on the naturalization process, and today's regulations show how far the White House is willing to go to reduce the number of new U.S. citizens and change the demographic composition of our country. In essence, the White House is creating a wealth test for citizenship and telling lower-income applicants that they're not welcome in Trump's America.”

STATEMENT FROM ARTURO VARGAS, CEO, NALEO EDUCATIONAL FUND

“Today’s proposal from the White House is an assault on the nearly nine million lawful permanent residents in our country, about half of whom identify as Latino. If the federal government institutes unreasonably exorbitant financial barriers to the citizenship process, the damage would reverberate in communities throughout the country. The entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of naturalized citizens contribute to the vitality of America’s economy and democracy; our shared prosperity increases with each new American who takes on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. NALEO Educational Fund will continue the work necessary to ensure the dream of American citizenship stays alive for our community.”

STATEMENT FROM SUSAN COLLINS, DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND ADVOCACY, NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP FOR NEW AMERICANS

“This discriminatory policy—just like the Muslim ban, the public charge rule and the healthcare ban--would destroy the path to refuge, legal residence, citizenship and inclusion for all those for whom Lady Liberty raises her torch. This is a ban on the tired, the poor, and those yearning to breathe free, plain and simple. Congress must step in and prevent this from going into effect before it causes irreparable harm to our families and nation.”

 STATEMENT FROM LAURA VAZQUEZ, SENIOR PROGRAM MANAGER, IMMIGRATION INITIATIVES, UnidosUS

“The Trump Administration has made life harder for Latino children and families. They have gone after DREAMers, Temporary Protected Status holders, and now those who are on the verge of becoming U.S. citizens. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that the Administration’s goal is really an all-out assault on the 60 million Latinos hasn’t been paying attention. That their policies also happen to go against the interests of our economy and our country make them only more cruel and nonsensical.”

STATEMENT FROM ANNA GALLAGHER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC LEGAL IMMIGRATION NETWORK, INC.

“The Trump administration once again is making changes that undermine American values and will hurt vulnerable, low-income populations. These proposed fee changes will have destructive consequences on men, women and children seeking asylum, DREAMers, and immigrants on the path to citizenship. We are deeply disturbed that this administration continues to limit access to the American dream."

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Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policymakers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training and technical assistance, and policy development and advocacy, the ILRC protects and defends the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities. As a key part of its mission, ILRC serves as the lead agency for the New Americans Campaign, a national campaign aimed at increasing the number of “new Americans” by ensuring access to the naturalization process and trusted legal assistance.

NALEO Educational Fund is the nation's leading non-profit, non-partisan organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service. 

The National Partnership for New Americans is a national multiethnic, multiracial partnership of 35 immigrant and refugee rights organizations. Our members provide large scale services--from assistance with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and citizenship applications to voter registration to health care enrollment--for their communities, and they combine service delivery with sophisticated organizing tactics to advance local and state policy. We believe America’s success is rooted in our ongoing commitment to welcoming and integrating newcomers into the fabric of our nation, and to upholding equality and opportunity as fundamental American values.

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels. For more than 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger.

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) is the nation’s largest network of nonprofit immigration legal services programs. Its mission is to provide immigration legal services to low-income and vulnerable populations. In service of that mission. CLINIC provides materials, training, and funding to its members, including in particular local organizations that provide naturalization services.

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