Almost a million people were granted US citizenship in 2012 with just over a million becoming legal permanent residents, according to new data from the US Department of Homeland Security. The information demonstrates that the amount of new holders of a green card and of naturalization, the method by which one becomes a citizen of the United States, have been fairly steady over the last couple of years, with naturalizations seeing a modest bump in 2012.
Migration Policy Institute researcher Claire Bergeron says that the 2012 presidential election might well be responsible for that modest increase. “There were a lot of outreach efforts leading up to the presidential election,” she notes. “A lot of the big ones we saw this year were Latino organizations.”
Latino voters, which included a number of new citizens, were instrumental in returning President Barack Obama back to the White House in November as well as increasing the Democratic Party’s power in Congress. In total, 757,434 people became naturalized last year, a rise from 694,193 in 2011. The great majority of new US citizens were born in China, India, the Dominican Republican, the Philippines and Mexico, the data – which was released on Friday – shows.
Naturalizations increased the most amongst people who were born in Cuba and the Dominican Republic between 2011 and 2012. The top 20 countries of origin included Vietnam, Pakistan, Somalia, South Korea, Iran and Nigeria. The data from 2012 is unremarkable according to immigration experts, except perhaps as a reference point if Congress passes immigration reform this year.