More Twin Cities immigrants seek citizenship

More Twin Cities immigrants looking to citizenship

ST. PAUL, Minn. - With so much uncertainty about whether they will be able to stay in the U.S. or not, refugees and permanent residents are calling Twin Cities organizations like the International Institute to guide them through the process of becoming a citizen.

"We have a big waiting list, so people are definitely interested, and we didn't have that waiting list six months ago," said Corleen Smith, the organization's Director of Immigration Services. Smith helps clients with the application process to become a citizen.

She says from October 2015 to September 2016 they received 968 citizenship applications.

So far this fiscal year, the numbers are trending higher. They have received 450 applications, on top of 100 people on a waiting list to apply.

"They are definitely scared, asking more questions," said Smith.

President Trump's travel ban is "temporarily halted," but that court order is set to expire Wednesday.

Several states have filed lawsuits challenging the president's travel ban. It would suspend new visas for people from six majority Muslim countries, including Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

Smith says the International Institute does not think the president's travel ban is necessary.

"Refugees go through wide and extensive background check interviews even before they enter the United States, so they are definitely vetted and approved," said Smith.

Other local organizations that help people become citizens, like Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance, have also seen an increase.

Many clients, they say, have mentioned they're nervous about the new administration and their inability to travel.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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