NATION : Latinos Put Off Citizenship Exam

From Times Wire Services

The overwhelming majority of Latino immigrants--98%--say they intend to stay in the United States, but many say they've delayed applying for citizenship because the exam is too difficult, a survey released today said.

"In light of the survey's findings, many of our society's assumptions about Latino immigrants will need to be re-examined," the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials group said. "Foremost among these assumptions is the perception that Latino immigrants are here temporarily and are planning to return to their homelands upon accumulation of savings or upon retirement."

The average European and Asian immigrant waits seven to eight years before naturalizing, but Latino immigrants wait an average of 14 to 15 years, the association said. However, once Latino immigrants take the exam, the survey said, most pass and don't find it difficult.

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