Are you a long-time green card holder and still unsure about becoming a U.S. citizen? Are you having a hard time wrapping your head around how U.S. citizenship will benefit you and your family?
One of the main benefits of naturalization is that it can help protect you and your children from the possibility of deportation.
The U.S. Government CAN (and Does) Deport Permanent Residents
According to the most recent statistics, in 2020, the U.S. government deported 185,884 people living in the U.S. (opposed to those removed at the border).
Although the statistics released by the government do not specifically state how many of those deportations were permanent residents, you might be surprised to find out how little it takes for green card holders to end up in deportation proceedings.
Let’s face it, kids do stupid stuff all the time. Even the best parents cannot always watch over their teenage children 24/7. Unfortunately, for non-citizen children, even the things that most people consider typical or minor mistakes could land your child in immigration court.
It’s also important to remember that under the law, it typically does not matter if the offenses are committed as a minor or as an adult.
4 Ways Your Child Could End Up Facing Deportation
There are many offenses that could land your child in court, facing the potential penalty of deportation. Some of the crimes that could put your child in danger of this punishment include:
- Possession of marijuana
- Possession of a controlled substance
- Drug addiction
Under U.S. immigration law, certain crimes are viewed as showing that a person lacks good moral character. These crimes are called “crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT).” Shockingly, the law does not give a very specific definition of what this means but instead allows the federal agencies and immigration courts to determine which criminal offenses fall under this umbrella.
A green card holder can be deported for a CIMT for two main reasons. The first is if a permanent resident commits a crime within five years of getting their green card, and the crime carries a possible sentence of at least one year. The second is if the individual committed two or more CIMTs at any time after receiving their green card.
Additionally, a crime can be a CIMT regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. The U.S. government and courts have determined that crimes involving theft or the conspiracy to commit theft are likely CIMTs for immigration purposes.
2. Possession of Marijuana
A marijuana conviction can bring about serious problems for green card holders. While there is an exception for a one-time offense for 30 grams (1.06 ounces) or less for personal use, the green card holder will still be required to go to immigration court and present their case before an immigration judge.
This is typically a very long process and could end up costing thousands of dollars, even if your child is never deported.
Additionally, this is a one-time exception. If your child ends up with two or more offenses for marijuana possession, the situation becomes much worse.
3. Possession of a Controlled Substance
A conviction of possessing a controlled substance could result in a green card holder facing deportation. Unlike a marijuana conviction, there is no exception for any other type of drug under the law. The amount of drugs found also does not matter.
Controlled substances can include completely illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, as well as medications available by prescription, such as Xanax or Hydrocodone.
This means that your child could be facing deportation for the possession of one Xanax pill as a green card holder, whereas a U.S. citizen may get off with just probation.
4. Drug Addiction
Green card holders who are drug addicts can face deportation under U.S. immigration laws. It is not necessary to have a criminal conviction of any kind. Simply admitting to drug use, being a drug addict, or based on evidence from a medical report could be enough for deportation.
Automatic Citizenship for Children Under 18
Your Lawful Permanent Resident children under 18 automatically become U.S. citizens when you naturalize.
Protecting your children from getting deported due to one or more of the reasons listed above may be easier than you think. According to the USCIS, your child can automatically get their U.S. citizenship if you become a U.S. citizen and your child:
- Is a green card holder
- Is living with you in the U.S. and legally under your custody
- Is currently under 18 years old
- Was under 18 or not yet born on February 27, 2001
This means they do not have to wait until they turn 18 to go through the naturalization process. It also means that once they become a U.S. citizen, the immigration laws will not apply, and they will be protected from deportation.
Other Benefits of Becoming a Naturalized Citizen
In addition to automatically granting your children under the age of 18 automatic citizenship and protecting you all from deportation, there are many other benefits to going through the naturalization process.
Longterm Permanent Resident can petition for their spouses, minor children, and of-age unmarried children to come to the country. However, the list of family members you can help bring to the country once you attain citizenship is greatly expanded. Citizens may also petition to bring over parents, siblings, and married children.
Better Earnings and Applying for Government Jobs
Only U.S. citizens can work for the federal government. These jobs are often highly desirable, and attainment of these jobs is part of the reason that citizens tend to be in stronger financial positions than non-citizens.
Full Freedom to Travel
In order to maintain residency status, there are limitations on how much international travel a long-term permanent resident can do in a year. U.S. citizens are not limited by these restrictions.
Right to Vote
Another benefit of citizenship is that you obtain the right to vote. The ability to have a say in the elected officials who represent your community is a major advantage of citizenship, not shared by long-term permanent residents.
Get Started on the Naturalization Process Today
Don’t wait to become a U.S. citizen any longer! You can start your application today with FileRight.com’s immigration software that walks you through the naturalization application step by step. Learn more about the U.S. citizenship process and what naturalization can mean for your children.