News / USA

    US Issues 1 Million Green Cards, Naturalizes 757,000 in 2012

    Zoltan Sznorfi, left, originally from Hungary, Benjamin Njoku, center, originally from Nigeria, and Keyan Chen, right, originally from China wait for the naturalization ceremony at historic Federal Hall to start, Friday, March 22, 2013 in New York.
    Zoltan Sznorfi, left, originally from Hungary, Benjamin Njoku, center, originally from Nigeria, and Keyan Chen, right, originally from China wait for the naturalization ceremony at historic Federal Hall to start, Friday, March 22, 2013 in New York.
    Nearly a million people became U.S. citizens last year, and just over a million became legal permanent residents, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    The data shows the numbers of new “green card” holders and naturalizations, the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, have been fairly steady over the past few years, with a modest bump in naturalizations last year.

    DHS: U.S. Naturalizations 1907-2012DHS: U.S. Naturalizations 1907-2012
    x
    DHS: U.S. Naturalizations 1907-2012
    DHS: U.S. Naturalizations 1907-2012
    Claire Bergeron, a researcher with the Migration Policy Institute, attributes that increase to the 2012 presidential election.

    “There were a lot of outreach efforts leading up to the presidential election to get people to naturalize. A lot of the big ones we saw this year were Latino organizations,” she said. 

    Latino voters, including many new citizens, helped secure President Barack Obama’s re-election and increased the power of his Democratic Party in Congress.

    A total of 757,434 people naturalized in 2012, up from 694,193 the year before. The majority of new citizens were born in Mexico, the Philippines, India, the Dominican Republic and China, according to the data released Friday.

    Naturalizations increased the most among people born in the Dominican Republic and Cuba between 2011 and 2012.

    Vietnam, South Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria and Somalia were among the top 20 countries of origin.

    Immigration policy experts say the 2012 data is fairly unremarkable, except that it may be a point of reference as immigration trends change in future years if Congress passes immigration reform.

    Growing numbers of lawmakers are calling for a path to citizenship for the estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. But what type of path, and how long it would take is the subject of intense debate, with new pitches flying through Washington each week.

    Last year, the U.S. granted “green cards” to 1,031,631 foreigners. That lets them live and work permanently anywhere in the U.S. and opens the door to citizenship within five years.

    Mexico, China and India were the leading countries of birth of America’s newest legal permanent residents. People born in Iraq, Burma, Bangladesh and Ethiopia were among the top 20.

    The majority of the green card holders already lived in the U.S. when their status changed. Nearly 66 percent were granted permanent resident status based on a family relationship with a U.S. citizen or another green card holder.

    The system to determine who gets a green card is a complicated process, with preference going to family members and foreigners with needed job skills or who came from countries not well represented in the U.S.

    Some immigration reformers are suggesting a new green card category be created for the undocumented immigrants in the U.S., while others object to what they consider to be an “amnesty” for people who broke the law.

    Erwin DeLeon, an immigration specialist with the Washington-based research group the Urban Institute, says he expects new data trends will emerge in about a decade because of the work Congress is doing now.

    If Congress passes immigration reform this year or next, he says, “by 2020 you’ll see a big spike” in permanent residents and new citizens.

    Bergeron isn’t so sure about the timing, however, since some proposals are suggesting unauthorized immigrants would have to wait as long as 10 years to become legal, with an additional five-year wait to naturalize.

    Persons Naturalized by Region and Country of Birth: Fiscal Years 2010 to 2012:

      2012 2011 2010
      Num. % Num. % Num. %
    REGION Total 757,434 100 694,193 100 619,913 100
    Africa 74,775 9.9 69,738 10 64,022 10.3
    Asia 257,035 33.9 249,940 36 251,598 40.6
    Europe 82,714 10.9 82,209 11.8 78,011 12.6
    North America 261,673 34.5 217,750 31.4 163,836 26.4
    Caribbean 109,762 14.5 79,820 11.5 62,483 10.1
    Central America 40,592 5.4 33,784 4.9 25,706 4.1
    Other North America 111,319 14.7 104,146 15 75,647 12.2
    Oceania 3,886 0.5 3,734 0.5 3,646 0.6
    South America 76,992 10.2 70,485 10.2 58,474 9.4
    Unknown 359 337 326 0.1
     
    COUNTRY Total 757,434 100 694,193 100 619,913 100
    Mexico 102,181 13.5 94,783 13.7 67,062 10.8
    Philippines 44,958 5.9 42,520 6.1 35,465 5.7
    India 42,928 5.7 45,985 6.6 61,142 9.9
    Dominican Republic 33,351 4.4 20,508 3 15,451 2.5
    China, People's Republic 31,868 4.2 32,864 4.7 33,969 5.5
    Cuba 31,244 4.1 21,071 3 14,050 2.3
    Colombia 23,972 3.2 22,693 3.3 18,417 3
    Vietnam 23,490 3.1 20,922 3 19,313 3.1
    Haiti 19,114 2.5 14,191 2 12,291 2
    El Salvador 16,685 2.2 13,834 2 10,343 1.7
    Jamaica 15,531 2.1 14,591 2.1 12,070 1.9
    Korea, South 13,790 1.8 12,664 1.8 11,170 1.8
    Peru 11,814 1.6 10,266 1.5 8,551 1.4
    Pakistan 11,150 1.5 10,655 1.5 11,601 1.9
    Brazil 9,884 1.3 10,251 1.5 8,867 1.4
    Iran 9,627 1.3 9,286 1.3 9,337 1.5
    Ukraine 9,459 1.2 8,489 1.2 7,345 1.2
    Nigeria 9,322 1.2 9,344 1.3 9,126 1.5
    Somalia 9,286 1.2 7,971 1.1 5,728 0.9
    United Kingdom 9,145 1.2 9,246 1.3 8,401 1.4
    All other countries 278,635 36.8 262,059 37.8 240,214 38.7

    Figure rounds to 0.0. Countries ranked by 2012 persons naturalized. Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, N-400 naturalization data for persons aged 18 and over, Fiscal Years 2010 to 2012.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: SALEH from: YEMEN
    March 25, 2013 10:09 AM
    I proud to be an AMERICAN citizen , I believe in the CONSTITUTION and LIBERTY .

    by: Ona Hagreen from: Wisconsin
    March 24, 2013 2:14 PM
    I have a friend in Chicago,who would like a green card,workes as a caregiver,pays taxes,has a SSI card and is very proud to be here,what would she do next.................

    by: saleh awdaly from: yemen
    March 24, 2013 10:56 AM
    Really , in fact I never seen thing clever as than as the U.S. immigration DEPARTMENTS , the DHS , and USCIS , they are PERFECTLY , working , they are SO sensitive , flexible , know , how they choice the fit immigrants to build the STRONG INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE U.S.A ., they provide us with resources , and customers services , in summary they deal with us gently .

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.