By Dr Juan Andrade, Jr.
The Trump administration is not only fighting immigration at our border with Mexico, it’s trying to make it more expensive for immigrants who have met the legal requirements for citizenship to become citizens.
How? The administration is proposing to raise the application fee by 82%, from $640 to $1,170! Studies have found that 32% of immigrants who are not yet citizens are living at 150% below the federal poverty level, and can ill afford this outrageous increase.
Why? The official line is “[t]he rule accounts for increased costs to adjudicate immigration benefit requests, detect and deter immigration fraud, and thoroughly vet applicants, petitioners and beneficiaries.” In short, BS.
Why else? The administration believes there are too many naturalized citizens already. What’s worse, it’s believed, naturalized citizens take their rights too seriously, especially the right to vote. A 2020 Pew study found a 93% increase in the number of naturalized citizens eligible to vote since 2000, comprising 10% of the electorate (23 million). Trump also knows that voter turnout among naturalized citizens runs 7% higher than that of native born citizens.
What’s worse, politically, is that 56% reside in the battleground states of California, New York, Texas, and Florida. That’s 12.8 million voters! These four states account for 151 of the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected president.
Americans should see the outrageous increase in the naturalization application fee for what it is. It’s a blatant attempt to impose a poll tax on the right to vote. A federal judge has ruled against it, but it will soon be heard by one of Trump’s many appellate courts that could uphold this 21st century poll tax, contrary to the 24th Amendment.
A new president, of course, could repeal the increase and take one more step toward restoring democracy for all Americans, native born and naturalized.
Dr Juan Andrade, Jr. is the 4th Latino in history to be honored by both a President of the United States and the Government of Mexico.