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STRUGGLES AFTER NATURALIZATION

What Are The Struggles Immigrants Face After Naturalization and Are There Solutions To End

These Struggles?

Jordan N. Halinski

Global Studies and World Languages Academy

Instructor: Gregory Falls

December 8th, 2017


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Table of Contents

Abstract………………………………………………………………………………….………...3

Introductions……………………………………………………………………………………....4

Limitations……………………………………………………………………………………..….5

Literature Review ………………………………………………………………………………....6

Discussion………………………………………………………………………………….….…..8

Social Conflicts…………………..……….………………………………………………8

Economic Obstacles…….……………….………………………………………………10

Language Barriers…….…………………………………………………………………12

Solution.…………….……….…………………………………………………………..14

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………….………15

References……………………………………………………………………………………….16

Appendix 1..……....………...……………...…………………………………………………….18

Appendix 2..……....………...……………...…………………………………………………….21
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Abstract

Naturalization is a process in which immigrants gain all the rights as a natural born United States

citizen has. Although these citizens have gained the same rights, they are still treated in a

different manner. Naturalized citizens face social conflicts, economic obstacles, as well as

coming into contact with a language barrier. Through interviews with two naturalized citizens, it

has become clear that the language barrier has become the root issue for many of the problems

naturalized immigrants face. These citizens face social discrimination due to their inability to

hold a complete discussion in a social aspect. Not only do they face social discrimination but

economic obstacles as well; they are not given the same opportunities to climb a corporate ladder

or create a large business due to the language barrier. While although there are opportunities to

decrease the language barrier, these opportunities come with fees some may not be able to

afford. Not only the fees are dissuading these citizens from joining but also the interviews they

must conducted in order to participate in the class. To combat this, social gatherings should be

held where multiple different language speakers can come together to practice their language

skills.
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INTRODUCTION

Let us face the truth, the United States Immigration system is nothing like Oprah. They

do not go around and say “You get a visa! You get a visa! Everybody gets a visa!” The Center

for American Progress (CAP) Immigration team estimates over forty-three million foreign-born

immigrants live in the United States of America as of 2017. It is not easy to get a visa, that we all

know, but do the people of the United States (US) know the obstacles naturalized citizens face?

Does the United States population agree on what the issues are no matter what their stance is on

immigration? As defined in simple terms by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an immigrant is

someone who moves to another country to take up permanent residency. An immigrant will

move to a foreign place for a better chance economic wise or to escape political or religious

prejudice. In this paper the author will discuss the trials and tribulations immigrants face after

gaining their US citizenship. Immigrants who have gone through the naturalization process face

social conflicts, economic obstacles, as well as a language barrier that do not allow them to

increase their own personal success in the United States but there are solutions to decrease the

obstacles naturalized citizens face.

Through research, the US population seems to have similar ideas on what the issues are

that are created by the US Immigration System. To have a deeper understanding on what the US

population believes are the issues interviews will be conducted.


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LIMITATIONS

Personal Bias​. The author has a tie to immigration as they are a third generation immigrant

from Mexico and Poland. The paper may contain bias against the immigration system as the

author has personally witnessed the downfall of immigrants before and after an individual went

through the United States’ immigration process. Due to this the author has taken a stance to

understand more about the immigration system and what happens to individuals after they go

through the process of becoming an American citizen.

Interviews​. The author often contacted individuals who are a part of different political parties to

interview them on their political stance on immigration but due to current election efforts,

responses have been slow. To combat this, the author is focusing on interviewing immigrants

who have become citizens, immigrants who are in the process of becoming citizens, and

immigrants that are not in the process of becoming citizens. Along with these types of

immigrants, the author plans to interview first generation immigrants, descendants of

immigrants, and citizens who no longer consider themselves descendants of immigrants. These

interviews with immigrants do not reflect immigration as a whole but their own personal

opinions.

Research​. Research on immigration is older and some sources are outdated. Although some

research is recent it is mostly opinion based as well as polls taken online by average citizens. A

lot of the research is conducted is based off of responses from interviews but the interviews do

not completely focus on the political aspect of immigration so further research will need to be

conducted to gather said information.


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LITERATURE REVIEW

A research book written by Massey, D. S. & American Philosophical Society looks into

the immigration system as a whole and includes figures from surveys across the nation on how

Americans feel about immigration. The book also includes immigration patterns from not only

Mexico but other countries as well. This research helps the strengthen the author’s stance as it

adds vital information including numerical facts on immigration and the patterns immigrants

tend to follow.

An academic journal published by Nicholson, M. C. & By the Center for American

Progress Immigration Policy gives recent information on immigration. This journal includes

patterns of immigration as well as including reasons on why people immigrate. Over forty-three

million foreign born people live in the United States and over twenty million of those are

naturalized citizens and over twenty two million are non-citizens. This information adds critical

details as well as recent numerical facts pertaining to immigration, patterns of immigration, and

statistics on the immigrants themselves such as sexuality, gender, citizenship, economics, and

place of origin.

A study conducted by American Immigration Council looks into demographics of

immigration with a large focus on women. Statistics dealing with economy, age, and place of

origin. The study adds information on why women will immigrate and age ranges that they will

immigrate. Adding this research adds a new demographic to focus on before and after the

immigration process as typically studies focus on the male population when it comes to

immigration.
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An academic analysis by Bryan J. Balin gives information about immigration to the

United States dating back to the opening of Ellis Island. Information includes country origin and

gender of the immigrant. It also includes dates of immigration which will be vital to track

patterns and compare them to the same time in the country of origin to validate why someone

immigrated.

A novel written by Henry Bischoff as a part of the series Major Issues in American

History states issues that include immigrants. The issues stated vary from America’s strength

and unity to how immigrants affect the economy. The novel clearly states points from those who

support immigration and those who do not. Statistics shown in the novel will be critical when it

comes to public wide interviews as they will support opinions of those of the opposition and

those in agreeance with immigration.

A novel published by the Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. holds a collection of essays

written about immigration from all over the world including Mexican immigration, Muslim

immigration, as well as Chinese immigration. The essays outline reasons on why one would

immigrant and include personal stories of those who immigrated and fit the place of origin.

Along with these essays, included in each are examples of legislation placed by the United States

government dealing with immigration, illegal immigration, and immigrant rights.

Multiple online sources include polls that have been taken by the average American

citizen. These polls were conducted nation wide and although they are not classified as random

polls, which would be ideal, they still hold the American opinion on immigration. The polls are

not research based but they add the vital opinions of Americans that will be included in

interviews.
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DISCUSSION

Naturalized immigrants face social conflicts, economic obstacles, as well as language barriers

throughout many aspects of life automatically creating a cycle within their family and

community. There is a vicious cycle that repeats when a naturalized citizen runs into these

obstacles. Many citizens come into contact with these obstacles and have no way of overcoming

them stunting their successful growth in the United States. Due to this, the children of

naturalized citizens may also come into contact with these obstacles and repeating the same cycle

as previous generations. To gain a better understanding of the cycle as well as personal views on

the issues stated previously, interviews have been conducted with two naturalized immigrants

originating from Germany and Mexico.

Social Conflicts

Immigrants in the United States face discrimination no matter their legal status facing

discrimination as children all the way to adulthood. As stated by the Southern Poverty Law

Center (SPLC) many children although born as United States citizens are denied enrollment in

schools as well as education required by the federal government. Although there is

discrimination among immigrants, the Center for American Progress (CAP) Immigration Team

has reported that in a poll distributed in January of 2017 that more than sixty percent of the

United States population thinks that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the United

States and eventually take action to become a citizen [​Nicholson 2017].​ While many Americans

agree that immigrants should stay in the United States no matter their status, those who disagree

are willing to set up measures to make sure these immigrants do not have the same opportunities

as they do.
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On May fourth, 2016 a complaint was filed at the ​United States District Court for the

Middle District of Louisiana stating that the state of Louisiana was violating the equality clause

of the fourteenth amendment, Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the National Voter

Registration Act by singling out naturalized citizens. While naturalized citizens were applying to

vote nowhere in the documents did it state they must provide proof that they are indeed

naturalized citizens. Along with not stating it in the forms, nowhere on the Louisiana secretary of

state website did it inclose those requirement. After the forms were submitted, letters were sent

out stating the requirements of naturalized citizens providing proof of citizenship. [SPLC 2016]

During an interview with a naturalized citizen, named Manuela Fischer, when asked

about social issues and or discrimination they have faced they answered the with the following:

“As you can tell, my English is not very good so in the past I have been made fun of for it…

Recently I have been discriminated way more than before. I have heard ‘Go back to your own

country!’ and “You don’t belong here’ multiple times...I believe this hate has risen from the

negative connotation our President gives about immigration.” [Fischer 2017].

In January of 2017 President Trump released more than two executive orders reversing

policies created by the previous President, Barack Obama. President Trump has put into place

many executive orders that not only affect the hispanic population but as well as the Muslim

population as shown by the “Muslim Ban” he released in January 2017. Many individuals see

the President act such a way towards many groups of individuals and they then take that as

approval to openly discriminate upon these groups. As shown in a rise of hate groups all over

the United States. The ​Southern Poverty Law Center has created a public forum for not only

individuals, but the hatewatch team they have created to report hate crimes against them or
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against groups of people. Not only hate crimes are reported but justice for those affected by

these hate crimes. As of August of 2017, the SPLC has reported that increase of reports created

by the public have increased by five percent. Reports have included, hate crimes targeted on

African Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, as well as those who stand up for each groups. SPLC

has reported that social discrimination against immigrants has also increased by two percent

based on the reports they are receiving [SPLC 2017].

In an interview conducted with Anthony Reyes, a naturalized citizen of Mexican descent,

replied with the following when asked about a particular social issue they have faced: “There is

no escape from the social discrimination.” Mr. Reyes went on to describe multiple events where

he has been socially discriminated for speaking Spanish with his Grandmother, voicing his

opinion on President Trump’s plan to build a wall between Mexico and The United States, as

well as when he wore clothing displaying the statement “Immigrants Make America Great

Again.” [Reyes 2017]. There has been an evident increase in social discrimination acts and

although not all acts have been reported, as stated previously, the SPLC saw an increase of two

percent with an estimate one new entry per thirty minutes on their hate watch forum [SPLC

2017].

Economic Obstacles

It is widely known that one of the reasons people immigrate is for economic success.

Immigrants leave their homes for better job opportunities and chances to make a large wage but

in reality they are not climbing the corporate ladder or even making it up that far. Immigrants

are a major part of the American workforce as they make up about forty percent of the staff of

not only Fortune 500 companies but the workforce of America [​Nicholson 2017].​ Although
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immigrants are a big part of the American workforce, most work in hard labour production.

Conflicts dealing with language as well as ethics prevent immigrants from working their way up

in corporate workplaces. Many immigrants although they are naturalized do not know English

fluently and do not have the resources to learn English at a quick enough pace to join higher

paying workforces. Due to the language barrier, naturalized immigrants tend to stay in the low

wage workforce or open up their own small businesses based on their culture and what they

know. Due to the amount of immigrants in the workforce it has been calculated that they add

about two trillion dollars to the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP) [​Nicholson 2017]​.

Immigrants add a positive influence to the United States’ economy although they are not

participating in workforces where the wages are much higher. ​It is argued that most immigrants

in the workforce adds to the United State’s productivity.​ The CAP Immigration team has

reported that “by ending ​Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and removing the receipts from

the workforce would cost the United States over four hundred and thirty billion dollars in GDP.”

Reform of legislation including easier paths to citizenship would increase the GDP by over one

trillion dollars over the span of ten years as well as created an estimated over one hundred

thousand jobs annually [Nicholson 2017].

Naturalized immigrants are often those who are running small businesses because they

often do not have the education or language skills to succeed in higher corporate jobs. They

create shops and even restaurants based off of their culture and traditions. It is often said that

small businesses are the backbone of the United States but yet what some fail to realize is that it

is immigrants running these small businesses. With these new cultural shops and restaurants, the

United States is participating in globalization. Other US citizens are learning new ideas and
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spreading culture increasing their participation in the culture and ultimately leading to them

continuing to support similar shops and restaurants.

Language Barriers

English is one of the most commonly spoken language in the United States in the 2010

census it was recorded that over two hundred and nine million United States citizens ages five

and up spoke English. Out of an estimate of over forty thousand foreign born citizens, only just

above six thousand and two hundred of them speak only english as home. Out of the fourty

thousand, just about fourteen thousand speak other languages and english in their household

reported that they speak english very well. Just under four thousand do not speak english at all

in their household [Gambino, Acosta, Gireco, 2014]. (See Appendix 2)

Although the English speaking population is high in the United States, it is not the country's

official language; in fact, the United States does not have an official language. Often

immigrants, whether documented or not, are told “Learn English.” and “ In America, we speak

English.” In some ways this is true as a majority of the population does speak English but

immigrants are not always offered opportunities to learn English. Many naturalized immigrants

learn small amounts of English to get by in the social world, but in a corporate world or political

world they do not know enough to succeed. The United States Census Bureau gives a list of

over thirty five languages that are widely spoken in the US breaking them down into four

categories. Not all those languages are supported in jobs around the country. While there is an

increase in the want for workers to speak multiple languages, most companies require their

workers to at least speak fluent English.


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During an interview conducted with a naturalized citizen named Manuela Fischer who

originated from Germany stated “Like with any other language, English is a hard to learn when

you did not grow up speaking it.” when asked about learning English as a second language. As

the author continued to ask questions about learning English, Mrs. Fischer went on to state

“When I first arrived in the United States and became a citizen, it was so hard to gain a respectful

job since my English was not very good, it still isn’t good.” As they continued, they summarized

all the experiences they have had with the public based on their language barrier. It is harder to

go about in a social setting when one does not understand the language fully or is able to

comprehend the quick speed most speak with. Children who are enrolled in school often can get

an English language education at their school and some schools even offer programs to further

teach the students as well as their family English. These programs are very successful and useful

in a child’s life as they grow older helping them to gain opportunities those who cannot speak

English will not have. Although this is great for those who receive the education, one must

remember that the United States is built off of equal opportunity. Everyone must receive the

same basic opportunities but whether they chose to take the opportunity and further their chances

or not is up to them to decide. It is known that one cannot get far in the United States without at

least a basic knowledge of the English language but not every naturalized citizen has the

opportunity to learn English. Naturalized citizens know that they must learn basic English to

have some kind of success in the United States but not every naturalized citizen is given the

chance early on to learn English. One naturalized immigrant who has a background knowledge

in the English language is going to gain more than another naturalized immigrant who has no

knowledge in the English language.


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Solution

A naturalized immigrant can only get so far in every aspect of life due to many challenges they

face. Through interviews, it became evident that the language barrier was the main challenge

one must overcome to be successful in the United States. As stated previously, the United States

is based off of equal opportunity which naturalized do not have when referring to the English

language. While although there are many programs in many communities offering “English as a

second language” classes, many do not take up the opportunity. Often these programs focus on

teaching Spanish speakers English soley and not providing a chance for others who speak a

different language than Spanish to learn English. More programs focusing on teaching other

foreign language speakers English should be created. Although there are English as a second

language classes offered it is not uncommon to require interviews before acceptance into the

program. At Virginia Beach Virginia Adult Learning Center, an interview is required for new

students as well as “a current valid government valid, current government-issued picture ID and

proof of residency” that must be shown at the interview as well. These classes also come with a

fee of fifty dollars (for Virginia Beach residents) as well as the cost of materials which can range

from twenty-five dollars to ninety dollars. These programs are available across the nation but it

is very common to charge fees. These fees along with interviews dissuade many naturalized

citizens from joining classes. Some are not comfortable with conducting interviews or are able

to afford the fees. While the English for Speakers of Other Language programs are very

beneficial to those able to take the classes, there should be other programs that have a more

social aspect to them. Instead of classes, there should be events where many different speakers
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of other languages can all come together in group activities to further their knowledge of the

English language.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, naturalized immigrants face obstacles dealing with social conflicts, economic

obstacles, and language barriers. Although these naturalized citizens deal with these obstacles,

the main issue seemed to revolve around language barriers. With over thirty recorded languages

in the United States [US Census 2010] there is no official language for the United States. The

language barrier decreases naturalized citizens from working their way up in a corporate world to

earn more money and hinder their social interactions. Naturalized immigrants face social

discrimination dealing with their citizenship status, providing proof of their citizenship states,

hate crimes committed towards them personally or their culture as a whole, as well as obstacles

created by those in a higher social and or political status. They also face economic obstacles

although they make up a majority of the United States’ workforce. Many immigrants stay within

the hard labour workforce as they are not given the opportunities to succeed and are hindered by

the incapability of not knowing english fluently. To combat this, there has been the creation of

English for Speaker of Other Language programs but fees and interviews can dissuade one from

participating. Along with these programs, there should be the creation of social events where

many speakers of other languages as well as English speakers can gather and work on their social

interactions with many languages.


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REFERENCES

Balin, B. J. (2008, March 21). State Immigration Legislation and Immigrant Flows: An Analysis.

Retrieved October 20, 2017, from

https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu/bitstream/handle/1774.2/32826/State%20Immigration%20L

egislation%20and%20Immigrant%20Flows%20032008.pdf?sequence=4

Bischoff, H. (2002). ​Immigration Issues​. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Camarota, S. A., & Zeigler, K. (2014, October 03). One in Five U.S. Residents Speaks Foreign

Language at Home, Record 61.8 million. Retrieved November 07, 2017, from

https://cis.org/One-Five-US-Residents-Speaks-Foreign-Language-Home-Record-618-million

Council, A. I. (2016, August 23). Immigrant Women in the United States. Retrieved October 12,

2017, from

https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/immigrant-women-united-states

Durham, J. (2016). ​The Bilingual Brain: How Foreign Language Study Affects Childhood

Learning and Implementing Language Learning into the United States Primary Education

System.,​10-23. Retrieved Oct. & nov., 2017.

English for Speaker of Other Languages. (2013, July 3). Retrieved November 3, 2017, from

http://www.adultlearning.vbschools.com/pages/programs/content/pdfs/esol.pdf
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Fischer, M. (2017, December 5). Struggles Faced After Naturalization [Interview by J. N.

Halinski].

Gambino, C. P., Acosta, Y. D., & Grieco, E. M. (2014, June). English-Speaking Ability of the

Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2012. Retrieved November, 2017, from

https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/acs/acs-26.pdf

Massey, D. S., & American Philosophical Society. (2007). ​Understanding America's Immigration

"Crisis",151​(3), 309-327. Retrieved October 20, 2017.

Nicholson, M. C., & By the Center for American Progress Immigration Policy. (2017, April 20).

The Facts on Immigration Today: 2017 Edition. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2017/04/20/430736/facts-immig

ration-today-2017-edition/

Portnoy, D., Portnoy, B., & Riggs, C. (Eds.). (2012).​ ​Immigrant Struggles, Immigrant Gifts​.

Fairfax , VA: GMU Press.

Reyes, A. (2017, November 22). Struggles Faced After Naturalization [Interview by J. N.

Halinski].

VAYLA New Orleans, et al. v. Tom Schedler, et al.(2016, May). ​ ​Retrieved December 01, 2017,

from
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https://www.splcenter.org/seeking-justice/case-docket/vayla-new-orleans-et-al-v-tom-schedler-

et-al

APPENDIX 1

Interview Transcripts

Interview 1: Naturalized Citizen - Anthony Reyes

Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Guadalajara, Mexico

Q: What is your first language?

A: Spanish

Q: Where are you currently employed (you are able to omit)

A: I own a plumbing company

Q: Why plumbing?

A: It was something easy I could easily start a business in and I had a small amount of
knowledge about plumbing so I figured I go with it.

Q: Did you ever think about trying to enter a corporate world?

A: No, I never saw myself working at a desk, I like to be hands-on in my work. I want to
work hard to know the money I earn is worth it

Q: Do you think you would have been successful if you decided to join the corporate world?

A: No, like I said I am a very hands-on, earn your money type of person.
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Q: As an immigrant, have you noticed any social conflicts against immigrants in the US?

A: If you haven’t noticed any social conflicts against immigrants in the US, you must be
living under a rock. There is no escape from the social discrimination.

Q: Have you personally been affected by social discrimination?

A: Yes, many of times I have been socially discriminated against

Q: If you are willing to, can you describe a few of these events? (These descriptions have been
modified for language as well as length)

A: Sure, Why not? One day I was with my Grandmother who was visiting and I took her to
a local grocery store. My Grandma only speaks Spanish so while I was speaking to her in Spanish
in the store, a white man came up to us and said “Excuse me, but this is America. We speak
English in American and if you want to stay, you sure as hell better learn English”

Another time I was in a discussion about President Trump’s plans to “Build the Wall.” I
said how I disagreed and someone else in the conversation stated “You just don’t want the wall
built because your family will have a harder time crossing the border”

Have you seen those shirts that mock President Trump’s campaign slogan? They say
“Immigrants Make America Great Again.” on them. I received it as a gift and wore it out in public.
The amount of glares I got for wearing the shirt was unreal…

Q: Moving on to the English language, you speak English very well but have you ever reached
obstacles because of the language barrier?

A: When I first moved here, there were difficult times because of the difference in language
but over time I quickly began to understand English and soon became able to hold myself in social
events using the English Language

-End of Interview 1-

Interview 2: Naturalized Citizen - Manuela Fischer

Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Germany

Q: What is your first language?


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A: German.

Q:​ Where are you currently employed (you are able to omit)

A: I am a stay-at-home mom

Q: Did you previously have a job?

A: Yes, I was a factory worker

Q: Did you ever want to work in a corporate environment?

A: No, when I first arrived in the United States and became a citizen, it was so hard to gain
a respectful job since my English was not very good, it still isn’t good. Because of this, I didn’t try
to work my way into a corporate job.

Q: Have you ever been discriminated against because of the language barrier you have?

A: As you can tell, my English is not very good so in the past I have been made fun of for it
just jokes from friends really when I didn’t understand how to say something but lately I have been
witnessing a lot more discrimination.

Q: If you are willing to, can you further explain the discrimination you are recently witnessing?

A: Recently I have heard “​Go back to your own country!” and “You don’t belong here”
multiple times. This has happened when I have spoken in German with family and friends out in
public.

Q: Why do you think you have just been receiving this discrimination more recently?

I believe this hate has risen from the negative connotation our President gives about immigration.

-End of Interview 2-
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APPENDIX 2

https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/acs/acs-26.pdf