Legal Aid Group: 15 Percent of Immigrants Eligible for Citizenship

A recent statistical analysis suggests up to 600,000 undocumented immigrants in the southern U.S. may be eligible to stay in the country.

Immigration lawyers for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network found roughly 15-percent of the four million immigrants living in Texas and across the south may have grounds for legal status based on fears of persecution or other factors.

“Its not creating a category of law for them, it is just taking advantage of the law that already exists, a path that already exists, and helping people find their way through it,” says CLINIC spokeswoman Patricia Zapor.

Zapor says without proper screening, many don't know they are eligible.

“Some people turn out to be eligible for citizenship because a father is a citizen and maybe the kid never knew it until he got here,” she says.  “Or maybe he says my dad was born in the U.S., but lived in Mexico when I was born so I assumed I was ineligible.”

“Other people would have a claim to asylum,” says Zapor.  “Others are special juvenile status, which is granted to young people who are essentially kicked out by their families, or abandoned by their families.”

She hopes the study encourages more immigrants to inquire about citizenship.

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