From Rep. Joe Baca --
Today, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) introduced legislation to allow motivated immigrant high school graduates to apply for United States citizenship after meeting certain academic requirements, which would replace the naturalization exam, and paying a reduced fee. The People Resolved to Obtain an Understanding of Democracy (PROUD) Act, mandates that any high school graduate who can furnish transcripts proving completion of grades 6 through 12, displays an understanding of United States history, government and civics, and can prove they are of good moral character be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship.
“America is the land of opportunity, we are blessed to live in a nation where people of diverse backgrounds can come together as one,” said Rep. Baca. “The PROUD Act is important legislation that puts our most responsible and successful immigrant students on a streamlined path for citizenship, and at the same time motivates all our students to do their best and to stay out of trouble.”
Currently, the minimum age to take the United States citizenship exam as part of the naturalization process is 18 years. The PROUD Act would amend the Immigration Nationality Act to allow exemplary non-citizen high school graduates, who are of age, to apply for citizenship as long as they provide the necessary academic transcripts, proof of essential civic knowledge, and are in good moral standing within the community.
“It is wrong to have policies that unfairly punish the innocent young people who came to America by no choice of their own as children,” concluded Rep. Baca. “By recognizing those hard-working, immigrant students who are here to make a better life for themselves and their families, the PROUD Act can make a positive impact in schools and communities throughout our nation. And by increasing the number of high-skilled, citizen workers, this legislation can boost our economic recovery by creating additional tax revenue at the local, state, and federal level.”
Rep. Baca also sponsored the PROUD Act in the previous (111th) Congress. The legislation was included as a key provision in the larger comprehensive immigration reform legislation introduced in the House of Representatives, H.R. 4321, CIR-ASAP. Last Congress, the PROUD Act was endorsed by numerous advocacy organizations including LULAC, HACU, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, MANA, and the National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association.