CLEARWATER, S.C. – Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested hundreds of people across Georgia, North and South Carolinas. Some of those detainees live in the CSRA. One Augusta mother and her children watched as ICE officers handcuffed 28-year-old Irving De La Cruz Ruiz and put him in a car. Amanda Diaz said her husband moved to the country from Mexico 11 years ago illegally and despite working various jobs it will cost a fortune to get legal.
“Starting out is probably about $10,000,” she said.
NewsChannel 6 looked deeper into the length and price of U.S. citizenship. One immigration lawyer said it doesn’t cost $10,000 and in some cases the process is free.
“It breaks my heart. That’s what our foundation is all about,” said Janey Rule, Executive Director of Learn English for Living Foundation.
Rule told NewsChannel 6 she offers free classes that prepare people for the citizenship application and test. She started Learn English for Living Foundation back in 2003 after a spike in immigration. She said she began offering English as a second language classes and expanded to tutoring the students of immigrant parents. But her passion was citizenship.
“Just the compassion when I’d go into restaurants or somewhere else and I would see people looking at the floor because there didn’t want that eye contact because they knew they would have to speak English.
Rule said she collects nothing for the 12 week course that meets once a week for three hours. Foreigners are required to pay for their books, which will run students around $30.
The rest is between the immigrant and the government. American Immigration Center states the Application for Naturalization cost $725. Click here for details.
Some may qualify for a fee waiver. See here.
“We try to grab people as soon as they get here because the first thing that we do is we test them for their English school level,” Rule said.
As for the test, Rule said the 100 question civics portion can be difficult.
“There are things like have you ever been part of a genocide? Have you ever tortured anyone? Have you ever had a political stance? Have you ever been a prostitute?”
The owner of Mi Rancho’s, Teo Estrada, is a graduate of Rule’s course and now a U.S. citizen.
“When I started working with our first student, who was a restaurant owner, and he received his citizenship, it just made it blossom,” she said of Estrada.
Rule stated she had a 100 percent success rate of students who have passed the test on the first try.
“We really believe that with everything that’s going on right now, there is going to be a lot of people coming out of the woodwork saying take our classes. We’ll teach you. Yeah, it’s only $5,000. We’ll give it to you. We’ll get you through it. And it’s just going to do an injustice to the people that need it.”
Contact Janey Rule by calling 706.284.7555. You can also check out the website here.