Barriers to Citizenship

On Feb. 7, David Laitin will speak in the Husted Hall Amphitheater about the barriers that low-income immigrants face as they seek to gain citizenship.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 6, 2018) – Research done in conjunction with a Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy professor found the first concrete evidence that cost is a major barrier for low-income immigrants seeking to become citizens, and the finding will bring a Stanford professor to the downtown campus next week for a public discussion.

David Laitin, professor at Stanford University and co-director of the Stanford Immigration Policy Lab, will present “Breaking Down Barriers to Naturalization for Low-Income Immigrants: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Design” on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the Husted Hall Amphitheater.

While the vast majority of immigrants in the United States express interest in citizenship, naturalization rates in the United States have long lagged behind those of other major host countries. Seeking to better understand the disparity and determine why some immigrants are more likely than others to complete the naturalization process, Laitin teamed up with associate professor and director of Rockefeller College's Master of International Affairs program Rey Koslowski, as well as researchers at Stanford and George Mason universities.

While previous studies have focused on individual characteristics of immigrants (language skills, resources, country of origin, etc.) this team looked at an external factor: the financial cost of the citizenship application process. In their analysis, the group revealed the first concrete evidence that cost is in fact a barrier impacting low-income immigrants' ability to gain citizenship, and they believe the findings could help provide a blueprint for future solutions.

Cosponsored by Rockefeller College and the Rockefeller Institute of Government, the study will be discussed at Wednesday's event with both Koslowski, Laitin, and Laura Gonzalez-Murphy, Director of the New York State Office for New Americans. To register and view more information about the free event, click here.

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