WASHINGTON - Less and less Caribbean nationals are applying to become U.S. citizens, latest Department of Homeland Security data analyzed by News Americas show.
In the last three years alone, naturalized citizens from the Caribbean and around the world have shown a rapid decline, dropping to less than 65,000 last year.
For 2010, just 62,535 Caribbean migrants became U.S. citizens, according to the DHS, compared to 84,917 the previous year. Still 2009 marked a drop of over 47,000 from 2008, when the numbers stood at 131,936.
The number of persons naturalized in the United States decreased to 619,913 in 2010 from 743,715 in 2009 and 1,046,539 in 2008. Consequently, Asia has been the leading region of origin of new citizens in most years since 1976. The number of applications pending a decision decreased from 480,000 at the end of 2008 to 290,000 by the end of 2010.
The majority of Caribbean nationals becoming U.S. citizens remain from the Dominican Republic followed by Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica, countries that make up the largest concentration of Caribbean nationals in the U.S. But naturalizations from those nations also follow the three year drop, perhaps due to the continued increase of citizenship application fees which now stand at $680 per person.
Last year, 15,451 nationals from the DR became new U.S. citizens, a drop from 20,778 the previous year. Cuba saw a decline to 14,050, down from 24,891 in 2009 while 12,291 Haitians became naturalized in 2010, down from 13,290 the previous year.
Less Jamaicans also became U.S. citizens last year, down to 12,070 from 15,098 in 2009.
Forty-one percent of all persons naturalizing in 2010 were born in Asia, followed by 26 percent from North America, and 13 percent from Europe. Mexico was the leading country of birth of persons naturalizing in 2010 with 11 percent. The next leading countries of origin of new citizens in 2010 were India, 10 percent, the Philippines, 5.7 percent, the People’s Republic of China, 5.5 percent and Vietnam, 3.1 percent. T
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon foreign citizens or nationals after fulfilling the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act concerning age, lawful admission and residence in the United States. These general naturalization provisions specify that a foreign national must be at least 18 years of age; have been granted lawful permanent resident status in the United States (be a legal permanent resident or LPR); and have resided in the country continuously for at least 5 years. Additional requirements include the ability to speak, read, and write the English language; knowledge of the U.S. government and history; and good moral character. Naturalized citizens earn the right to vote in U.S. elections. With 2012 around the corner, the decline does not augur well for the Caribbean migrant block or for immigrant voters.