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Immigrants are sworn in as U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony May 22, 2007 in San Francisco. - 


Scott Jagow: More than 4,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens on the Fourth of July. There was a nice little ceremony for some of them at Disney World, right in front of Cinderella's castle. This month a new wave of people are applying to become citizens because the application fee goes up at the end of this month. Dan Grech reports from our Americas Desk at WLRN.

Dan Grech: The fee now is $400. On July 30, it jumps to $675. That's a week's wages for a working-class immigrant.

The rate hike will help fund more immigration staff and hopefully reduce a 10-month backlog in applications.

The fee hike has also caused citizenship petitions to increase by 75 percent from December to May.

Stewart Verdery is the former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security. He says another factor driving the jump is fear.

Stewart Verdery: Talk of increased deportations and enforcement I think has made some people think, look, I'm going to try to make sure I'm fully legal and accounted for in the system before those resources come online.

These new citizens could impact more than just the U.S. economy. Outside of 4th of July naturalization ceremonies, registration booths were set up for next year's presidential election.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.