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Hispanic illegal immigrants say they will become citizens

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Hispanic illegal immigrants are eager to become U.S. citizens if given the chance, according to new polling released Monday that shows they want to assimilate into America.

Some opponents of legalization argue that illegal immigrants from Latin America don’t want to achieve U.S. citizenship, but merely want to come to the U.S. for jobs or benefits. But the poll’s findings suggest otherwise.

The poll, sponsored by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), surveyed 400 Hispanics here in the U.S. illegally and found that 87 percent said they would become U.S. citizens if they were allowed.

According to NALEO, the poll also found 85 percent of illegal immigrants already have a family member who is an American citizen — which NALEO said is evidence their families are already integrated into the country.

Assimilation is a major concern heading into this year’s debate on legalizing the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the U.S. Some analysts argue that with globalization, today’s new immigrants are more likely to maintain ties to their home countries than previous waves of immigrants.

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