More than 32,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens in the D-FW Metroplex in the last year


More than 32,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens in the D-FW Metroplex in fiscal 2022, the latest data shows. That surpasses pre-pandemic numbers.

The Dallas area ranked 7th nationwide among metro areas where naturalizations occurred. But the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land area ranked first in the state, welcoming over 44,000 new U.S. citizens in FY 2022, the fourth largest number in the nation. That’s 4.8% of all new citizens for that period, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

In 2019, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington had about 30,500 naturalizations, while in 2022, it had 32,842 naturalizations. Most new citizens were natives of Mexico, with 7,056 naturalizations, followed by 4,124 people from India and 1,857 people from Vietnam.

With more than 108,000 new citizens, Texas had the second most naturalizations after California, which had almost 182,000 naturalizations for fiscal year 2022, according to Homeland Security numbers released in August.

This week, immigration experts and advocates are highlighting the numbers as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services celebrates Citizenship Day and Constitution Week promotes the benefits of becoming naturalized through ceremonies and educational events.

In early 2021, USCIS embarked on a major push to “restore faith in the immigration system and strengthen integration and inclusion efforts for new Americans,” the Biden administration said at the time.

The latest evolution of that plan includes expanding its Citizenship Ambassador Program.

Last year, Mara Queiroz Vaughn, a Spanish lecturer at the University of North Texas at Dallas, was appointed one of eight “Citizenship Ambassadors” nationwide. Texas’ other citizenship ambassador is Magdalena Alvarado, the president of a local community organization in Galveston. This year, USCIS plans to add three more around the nation.

Their goal is to encourage green card holders to apply for citizenship and share their experiences.

Queiroz Vaughn, originally from Brazil, has for over a decade helped people prepare for their naturalization process. In 2017, she and other community members created “Spanish in the Community,” a non-credit class at the University of North Texas at Dallas.

The class helps residents learn how to apply for citizenship and puts all the resources needed for completing this process in one place, said Queiroz Vaughn. During each semester, students have access to legal assistance to review their application forms, pre-testing, mock interviews, lessons on U.S. history, and support to improve their oral and written communication in English, all without any cost.

“The biggest fear for green card holders is the idea of taking the exam in English,” said Queiroz Vaughn.

Lili Almazan, originally from Mexico, left, and her sister Araceli Quezada, attend a constitution and citizenship celebration before their U.S. citizenship preparation class Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, at the University of North Texas at Dallas.(Chitose Suzuki / Staff Photographer)

Students from the university, lawyers and community members teach the classes, which attract an average of 80 to 110 participants every semester.

“We always encourage people to naturalize as soon as possible. We never know when the laws will change, so this is the moment to do so,” said Queiroz Vaughn.

The consulates of Mexico, El Salvador, and Peru in Dallas also work closely with Queiroz Vaughn to promote the program, along with organizations such as the League of United Latin American Citizens, Dallas College, and others.

The City of Dallas library system, Catholic Charities and Proyecto Inmigrante throughout the year also offer free citizenship workshops and legal aid for those who can not afford it.


Source link

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.