Dozens of immigrant and refugee advocacy organizations in over 100 cities are marking Citizenship Day today by kicking off a national campaign to naturalize 2 million people by the end of 2022. The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) said in a statement received by Daily Kos that the We’re Ready! campaign “will reach millions of eligible lawful permanent residents encouraging them to become citizens through workshops, outreach events and communication efforts.”
“Citizenship Day is an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of citizenship and how to secure it even if people have low-income or limited English skills,” said NPNA executive director Nicole Melaku. “Our target of securing citizenship for two million people by next year is a bold pursuit that we believe will make a real difference for families across the country and help stabilize the economy in this time of economic recovery.”
NPNA said more than 9 million green card holders (others say nearly 10 million) could be eligible for U.S. citizenship, but “barriers like limited English skills, high application fees, and a lack of access to legal services and information prevent them from taking steps towards naturalization.” In just two examples, the previous administration put citizenship out of reach for many people of color by jacking up fees by 80%, as well as making the naturalization test purposefully more confusing. A judge would block the former; the Biden administration would reverse the latter.
NPNA also said that as part of its campaign it’s “advocating that Congress increase funding for immigration legal services, including by increasing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Citizenship and Integration Grant Program from $10 million to $100 million annually.”
“A large portion of immigrants in the United States currently qualify for citizenship through naturalization, but the process is complicated and costly,” said Somos Un Pueblo Unido executive director Marcela Díaz. “Many are unaware of their eligibility and do not have access to legal resources, especially in rural communities. We will continue to organize for local and federal policy solutions that will help make this important process accessible to all those who qualify.”
USCIS said in a statement received by Daily Kos that as part of Citizenship Day and Constitution Day, the agency will swear in 21,000 new Americans in 335 ceremonies, beginning today through Sept. 23.
“It is an honor to welcome so many new Americans this Citizenship Day and Constitution Day,” USCIS Director Ur Jaddou said. “Citizenship Day and Constitution Day are special days at USCIS—an agency where many people come to work every day to help those at home and abroad realize the full meaning of U.S. citizenship. As we take time to reflect on what citizenship means to each of us, let us share in the commitment to invest fully in this country’s promise to be a place of hope and possibilities for all.”
CNN reported in July that the Biden administration was set to undertake an “unprecedented effort” leveraging government agencies to encourage immigrants to naturalize. USCIS would partner “with the US Postal Service to display promotional posters at Postal Service facilities about becoming a US citizen,” for example. And, “[a]s Congress considers creating a path to citizenship as part of the reconciliation legislative package, the number of immigrants who will be eventually eligible for naturalization could increase by millions,” NPNA continued, and other advocates echoed.
“Congress has a golden once in a lifetime opportunity to open a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants who have been living and contributing to this country,” CHIRLA executive director Angelica Salas said in a statement received by Daily Kos.
“On Citizenship Day, we encourage all legal permanent residents who qualify to take advantage by applying to become U.S. citizens now,” Salas continued. “Immigrants enrich this country in many ways, but their economic contribution is particularly visible and, in fact, undeniable, when accompanied by citizenship. Let’s celebrate each and every one of those who become U.S. citizens today, and let’s make sure this country extends happiness to millions more, by protecting a path to citizenship in the budget reconciliation process.”
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.