Posted on March 2, 2022

Black and Hispanic Immigrants Less Likely to Be Approved for US Citizenship, Study Finds

Shirin Ali, The Hill, February 25, 2022


A newly published study examined disparities in who was granted approval for U.S. citizenship by race, ethnicity, gender and religion between October 2014 and March 2018. The results found non-white applicants and Hispanic applicants are less likely to be approved than non-Hispanic white applicants, while applicants from Muslim-majority countries are less likely to be approved than applicants from other countries.

Black males had a probability of citizenship approval at 89 percent, while white females had a 94 percent probability of approval — which means 8,000 Black males could have obtained naturalization approval during the study period had their approval rate been equal to that of white females.

The probability for Black applicants from Muslim-majority countries, like Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan, was 87 percent, compared to 93 percent for females from non-Muslim majority countries.

“U.S. citizenship laws have a long history of formally excluding non-whites, religious minorities, and females. We assume all that is in the past, because [our] laws now prohibit those kinds of discrimination. We shouldn’t expect to find continued disparities by race, gender, and religion. So the persistent disparities that we found are surprising and troubling,” said Emily Ryo, professor at University of Southern California and lead author of the study {snip}


“In the end, naturalization cases are decided by individual people who arrive at their determination from a whole host of experiences that may lead to intentional or unintentional biases and preferences,” said Sarah Bishop, an associate professor at the City University of New York, in the study.