Mike Kueber's Blog

April 4, 2013

Is the cost of applying for naturalization too onerous?

Filed under: Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 6:53 pm
Tags: ,

Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois congressman Luis Gutierrez penned an op-ed piece in the NY Times today charging that the fee charged for a citizenship application is too onerous.  How much is the fee?  $680. 

Yes, $680 is a lot of money, and Emanuel and Gutierrez persuasively point out that:   

  • At $680, an employee earning the federal minimum wage would have to work for more than two months to pay for an application for himself or herself, a spouse and two children.”

But there are two flaws to their argument:

  1. The amount is consistent with the offer of Path to Citizenship proponents to assess a significant penalty on individuals in return for overlooking/forgiving their illegal conduct. 
  2. We have all read the news stories about illegal immigrants paying thousands of dollars to “coyotes” to secure passage into America.  If impoverished individuals can come up with thousands of dollars while living in Mexico or Central America, they should be able to accumulate $680 while in America for the privilege of becoming a citizen.    

Instead of a $680 flat fee, Emanuel and Gutierrez recommend “a sliding scale based on household income and family size, and consider other factors like the ages of the applicants and school enrollment of minors.”  Although I’ve always been curious about penalties/fines based on ability to pay, I don’t think the Pathway is the appropriate place to try it.

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