More immigrants seek citizenship in wake of Georgia law

Against the backdrop of Georgia’s tough new immigration law, unprecedented numbers of foreign-born residents are taking the trouble to become U.S. citizens, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates analyzed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The state saw an estimated increase of more than 43,000 naturalized citizens between 2010 and 2011, a surge of 13 percent. That put it in the top five among all states — along with Alabama, South Carolina and Utah, which are also among the handful of states that have passed laws designed to curb illegal immigration.

Fear of being questioned about their legal status is prompting more immigrants who are eligible for citizenship to complete the process, said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

“People can feel more protected if they become citizens,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a natural inclination for self-preservation.”

In Tuesday’s newspaper, the AJC continues its unmatched coverage of Georgia’s attempts to stem illegal immigration. It’s a story you’ll only get by picking up a copy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper’s iPad app. Subscribe today.

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