This Friday, August 8th, I will become a citizen of the United States of America. A process that began twenty years ago when my parents brought me to live in America. As I’ve shared the process with friends and family, it struck me how many myths there are about immigration and citizenship. The process is extremely complicated, so why would anyone know the facts about the process, the obligations and the rights of documented and undocumented immigrants unless they were personally going through the process. I am not an immigration or tax expert, but there are a few questions, misconceptions and facts I’ve come across in the last twenty years that I’d like to share. The folks at FWD.us made a great video with a few of those of those myths.
#1 Myth: Undocumented Immigrants don’t pay taxes.
Fact: In 2010, undocumented immigrants paid $10.6bn in Taxes.
#2 Myth: Lawful permanent residents don’t pay social security taxes
Fact: Green card (permanent residents) holders pay social security taxes, and are eligible to receive social security benefits.
#3 Myth: When permanent residents become citizens, they get a green card
Fact: When permanent residents naturalize to become citizens they give up their green card and have the same rights and responsibilities as natural-born citizens. In essence natural born or naturalized citizens are the same for all intends and purposes. (So happy about this fact!)
#4 Myth: If you marry a U.S. Citizen you can become legalized immediately.
Fact: Marrying a U.S. Citizen does not guarantee permanent residency. In fact, if someone entered the U.S illegally, even if they marry a U.S. citizen they may still need to leave the country for up to 10 years before they can return. The financial requirements are also very high, and not everyone meets them.
#5 Myth: Criminals can become citizens
Fact: Under current immigration law, anyone with a felony conviction is completely banned from permanent residency or citizenship. There are times when undocumented immigrants get charged with identity fraud, which is a felony conviction for using doctored papers to work.
These are just a few of the many, many myths surrounding immigration and citizenship in America. I wish the process was more simple and easier to understand, but just like our tax code, our immigration code is very complicated.
I am still confused!