An article in the Arizona Daily Star newspaper pointed out that there is a gulf between what legal immigrants say about applying for U.S. citizenship and what the data show is the actual case.

“More than 93 percent of Hispanic immigrants who are in this country illegally say they want to apply for citizenship, but fewer than half … who can apply do so, according to research by the Pew Hispanic Center. A June study by the center found that only 46 percent of Hispanic immigrants eligible to become citizens have applied, compared to 71 percent of immigrants who are not Hispanic.”

Why? According to the news article, “Experts said they are not surprised by the numbers, noting that many people are not applying because the application process is costly and cumbersome.”

That explanation is intended to evoke concern for the poor immigrants deterred by tough citizenship tests and high fees. But it ignores an even more obvious explanation. If you were an immigrant in a foreign country and someone asked you – the person asking might even represent the government – whether you were interested in becoming a citizen of that country in which you were living, would you likely say “No”?

Especially if you come from a hierarchical society, you are likely to answer a question like the one on interest in becoming a citizen the way that you think will please the questioner.