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How Much Does It Cost to Become an American? « The Washington Independent

TWI gets the crux of the story again with an independent view. I really enjoy reading their posts. (Side note: They cross post on the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post)

How Much Does It Cost to Become an American? via The Washington Independent.

The cost of a naturalization application is still $595, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced last week. The agency decided against a proposed fee hike on naturalization applications after the fee increase was discouraged in a public comment period. Of course, that doesn’t mean all fees were frozen: A number of fees, such as the fee to apply for a green card or petition for an alien relative, were increased.

About 90 percent of the USCIS budget comes from fees, which are adjusted every two years. Naturalization is an expensive process, andestimates put the cost to the agency at $655 per application. But as many fees continually go up, immigrants rights advocates argue they become untenable for applicants who make little money. At $595, naturalization fees were already difficult to find for some immigrants, who also must hand over $85 for biometric fees (that fee was increased by $5 this year).

The naturalization fee is the final step to becoming a citizen, after immigrants have lived in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident for at least five years — sooner if a spouse or parent is a U.S. citizen. But some immigrants are delayed because they can’t afford the fee, Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement today:

“We applaud the Administration for not increasing the price of U.S. citizenship and putting a halt to the exorbitant fee increases that have become a barrier for immigrants who are eager to become Americans. … The Obama Administration is demonstrating a commitment to encourage immigrants to become citizens, and that is ultimately good for our democracy.”

Other fees were increased, which immigrants rights advocates argue deters foreigners from seeking legal routes to immigrate to the U.S. “It begs the question of Congress: If we want these people to take these steps, we have to make sure that we’re not pricing them out of their reach,” Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza told USA Today when the fee increases were proposed in June.

A number of fees were increased. Green card application fees will increase from $930 to $985, while certain temporary legal status application fees will go from $710 to $1,130. Most applicants have to wait long periods to actually enter the U.S. — if they are allowed entry at all — even after shelling out the $985 fee.

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Pawlenty, Obama, and School Speeches!

(CNN) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is adding his voice to the growing conservative chorus criticizing President Obama‘s scheduled address to public school children next week.

Pawlenty, who since announcing he was not seeking a third term as governor earlier this summer has stepped up his criticism of the president, said Friday the classroom is no place to show a video address from Obama.

“At a minimum it’s disruptive, number two, it’s uninvited and number three, if people would like to hear his message they can, on a voluntary basis, go to YouTube or some other source and get it. I don’t think he needs to force it upon the nation’s school children,” he told reporters at the Minnesota State fair.

The governor also objected to the Department of Education‘s initial encouragement of school children to write the president with their thoughts on what they can do to help him. Amid criticism, the proposal was dropped.

“There are going to be questions about — well, what are they are going to do with those names and is that for the purpose of a mailing list?” Pawlenty said.

via CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive – Pawlently takes aim at Obama’s address to students « – Blogs from CNN.com.

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A Better Congress

Many this morning are wondering what was Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) motivation when he went to the speech last night. His outburst of, “It’s a lie” shocked many of the those in the audience. On the one hand he should be punished for breaking the rules of the House. However, it is extremely narrowminded to think that lawmakers cannot become emotionally embolded to breakout of the soundbite havens of all politicians. If Congress became a true place of debate and impassioned leadership, more would happen and be talked about by the people. These rules are in place to stop uncontroled reaction but is that not what Congress needs now, ACTION!

Thanks Joe for making today’s newcycle interesting.

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