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

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs