Despite Cantor Loss, Reform Still Alive in Congress

It has been nearly a year since the Senate passed a sweeping immigration overhaul on June 27. The House has yet to act. The cause of the delay continues to be the internal divisions within the Republican Conference, with a sizable numbers of the conference opposed to reform.  Many members of Congress are now waiting to see how the primary season will turn out. Will members who have voiced support for immigration reform retain their positions?

Republican primary elections have yet to offer clarity on support for reform

On June 10, the small-tent faction of the Republican party, or the “tea party,” celebrated victory in Virginia’s 7th Congressional district, where a poorly-funded tea party challenger beat the Republican Party’s second-highest-ranking member in the House, Eric Cantor. Cantor was seen as a supporter of reform, although he played both sides of the issue during his campaign. Still, his opponent attacked Cantor’s support for “amnesty,” and Cantor’s loss has given the press more reason to declare immigration reform officially dead.

On the other hand, other primaries have yielded the opposite results for candidates who have been supporters of reform. On the same day that Cantor lost, one of the leaders in pushing reform legislation through the Senate, Lindsey Graham, very comfortably won his primary in South Carolina. Graham received 57 percent of the vote, far ahead of the 15 percent received by the second-place finisher in a field of six challengers.

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Naturalization: The Latest Official Statistics

On June 3rd, the Office of Immigration Statistics of the Department of Homeland Security released its fiscal year 2013 statistics on naturalization. These statistics give us a look at how many persons are becoming citizens, what are the top countries of origin, and which states and cities have the most new Americans.

How many are naturalizing?

In the government’s fiscal year 2013 (which ended September 30, 2013) 779,929 immigrants became citizens. This is a slight increase from the year before. In fact, since 2010—when naturalizations dipped to their most recent low point after the government caught up with a surge in applications caused by a hike in the application fee—naturalizations have been steadily increasing. Still, the number of immigrants being naturalized is not quite keeping pace with the number who are becoming permanent residents—a little more than one million per year in recent years.

Natzgraph

Who is naturalizing?

Mexico is the top country of origin for our newly naturalized citizens. In 2013, India replaced the Philippines as the number two country of origin, but those three countries have been in the top three for the past three years.

More women than men became new citizens, and that is no different than the previous two years. In 2013, 55 percent of new Americans were women. Nearly two-thirds of new Americans were married.

Where are immigrants naturalizing?

Not surprisingly, the top three immigrant gateway states of California, New York, and Florida are also the top three states for new Americans. In 2013, nearly 165,000 immigrants became citizens in California alone. The top five metropolitan areas in which immigrants are becoming citizens are New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, and Chicago.

The paper from the Office of Immigration Statistics is available here.

This article was written for the National Immigration Forum, and appeared on the website of the New Americans Campaign.