Dozens of new US Citizens in Amarillo - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Dozens of new US Citizens in Amarillo

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While Congress continues discussing the legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants, dozens became citizens Monday in Amarillo. 

78 people from 20 different countries including Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Japan, Mexico and Canada received their citizenship certificate during Monday's naturalization ceremony in Amarillo.

The League of Women Voters gave out voter registration application cards so the new citizens could exercise their right to vote. 

All the while, the immigration reform bill, which recently passed the Senate, is working to legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants across the country.
 
It would include shorter pathways to citizenship. A local attorney explains the current one is all family-based. There usually has to be an immediate relative or citizen spouse.

Whittenburg Law Firm Attorney Pace Rawlins says, "What the immigration reform would do is eventually take the family based petition. Take the immigration from the family-based, turn it more to a merit-based."

Rawlins says this immigration reform would grant citizenship based on a merit point scale system. The person would have to prove continual presence from December 31st, 2011 to present time, must have not committed any felonies, three or more misdemeanor offenses, and can not have voted illegally.

The immigration reform bill will be discussed in the House on Wednesday.
    
Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10.