Cost of US Citizenship Might Rise - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

2-1-07 - Lufkin

Cost of US Citizenship Might Rise

by Tashun Chism

La Unica restaurant has been serving Mexican food to East Texans for nearly 30 years, but a new proposal by the Bush Administration could make it harder for immigrants to open their own businesses or even become US citizens.

"I that they're being hypocritical because everyday you hear on the news that they want to do something about illegal immigrants. But when it comes time to give them the opportunity to do something about it and become American citizens, they make it almost impossible," said La Unica Manager Martha Quintanilla. 

The proposal would raise the current US citizenship application fee from $325 to $905. The price for entrepreneurs who want to immigrate to the us to start a business would jump from $475 to $2,850. The increased fees are designed to provide much needed funding, and speed up the application process. But we found many people who disagree with the plan. They believe it unfairly targets the Hispanic community.

"I think that by raising the cost of becoming an American citizen and allowing small businesses to be in our communities, I think it's trying to stop the Hispanic community from growing and from becoming more and more successful," Quintanilla added.

The main argument against higher immigration fees is that the process of becoming a US citizen is already difficult enough, and raising the cost of citizenship would only make it worse.

"They have to make a living and they have to be able to take care of their families. Now, these immigrants that I've seen are hard working people. Good people from good families and they want to do good and better themselves," La Unica customer Sherrie Beckett said.

"My dad worked two or three jobs to be able to start this business and my mom did, too. And they did it by themselves. They didn't speak English at the time and they did everything they could to become a citizen and do things in the right way," said Quintanilla.

 The owners of La Unica believe many other hardworking immigrants are trying to follow the same example. 

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