Of the 5.4 million legal Mexican immigrants, 64 percent have not pursued naturalization. The 36 percent who have is about half the rate of legal immigrants from all other countries combined, the Pew Research Center in Washington said its analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data revealed.
Pew researchers said they found 61 percent of all immigrants and 68 percent of all non-Mexican immigrants sought naturalization in 2011. The overall rate also was about the same as for other non-Mexican Hispanic immigrants, Pew said.
Pew noted Mexicans are by far the largest group of immigrants in the United States illegally, accounting for 6.1 million (55 percent) of the estimated 11.1 million in the country as of 2011.
Pew said its analysis suggests creating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally does not mean all would pursue the opportunity. The center said many could instead choose legal permanent resident status, which would remove the threat of deportation, enable them to work legally and require them to pay taxes while forgoing the full rights of U.S. citizenship, including the right to vote.
The center's report, "The Path Not Taken; Two-Thirds of Legal Mexican Immigrants are not U.S. Citizens," is available at www.pewhispanic.org.