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Immigrants from about 42 different countries are sworn in as new citizens in Virginia on May 22, 2006. - 


SCOTT JAGOW: Every year, the U.S. government processes 730,000 applications for citizenship. Each one of those applicants pays $330. But the Feds wanna raise that fee to almost $600. That's not sitting well with immigrant rights groups. Here's John Dimsdale:

JOHN DIMSDALE: Citizenship and Immigration Services is proposing several fee increases that would generate $2 billion over the next two years to pay for speedier processing of applications.

Fred Tsao of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugee Rights says applicants shouldn't be footing the whole bill.

FRED TSAO: If we value citizenship and if we value the national security benefits that come from a lot of these infrastructure costs, then we should be underwriting part of that cost because it benefits all of us.

But the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, says those who benefit should pay. Not taxpayers.

LAMAR SMITH: It's cheap for the price to tell you the truth. There are millions of people around the world who would pay a lot more to become a citizen.

The government is soliciting public comment on the fee increase proposal for the next two months.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.