New citizens have mixed feelings about amnesty for illegal immigrants

Article author: 
Nancy Lofholm
Article publisher: 
The Denver Post
Article date: 
6 February 2013
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 


When Anton Kilpa raised his right hand and became an American citizen Wednesday, the Ukranian chemical engineer did so after five years of flipping burgers, cleaning chimneys and driving trucks while working his way through the complicated citizenship process.

He was still clutching his citizenship certificate and a tiny flag when he weighed in on one of the front-burner issues roiling his new country — immigration reform.

Reform proposals include a path to citizenship for as many as 11 million immigrants who did not come to the United States legally as did Kilpa and the 17 other new citizens who took their citizenship oaths Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Grand Junction.

"I am of two opinions. The first kind of finds me a little bit negative. I had to go through all the proper ways to do this," he said. "The second is that being a citizen makes me want something better for this country. If you look at this from the perspective of them (illegal immigrants) paying taxes and stuff and being able to get educations and buy real estate, it could be good for the country."

The upward of 7,000 immigrants who will become citizens in Colorado this year have good reason to feel ambivalent about the possibility of citizenship for those who came to the country illegally.

As new citizen Sheri Andrews put it, "It's a very difficult thing for the people who come here legally. I have very mixed feelings because of that."

... To become a citizen, applicants must be in the country for a minimum of five years. That time can be shorter if they are married to a citizen. They have to prove that they are of good moral character; that they can speak, read, write and understand English; and that they are knowledgeable about American government and history.