- September 15, 2017
- Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
- Wesley Tharpe
States and cities nationwide are discovering they can strengthen their local economies and boost tax revenues by encouraging immigrants legally in the country on a permanent basis to become citizens. About 9 million people nationwide live in the country as lawful permanent residents and are eligible to become naturalized citizens, including an estimated 195,000 in Georgia. But fewer than 10 percent each year complete the process to become citizens of the United States, in part because the process is lengthy, complex and costly. A concerted effort by Georgia lawmakers and community leaders to encourage lawful permanent residents to become citizens and smooth their path could add up to $639 million in annual earnings to the state’s economy and as much as $62 million a year in state and local tax revenue.