Nation’s Mayors Support Minimizing Barriers to Naturalization and Increasing Number of U.S. Citizens
Together with appointment of Leon Rodriguez as Director of USCIS, US Conference of Mayors passes resolution calling for proactive USCIS and Department of Homeland Security policy changes
This week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) voted overwhelmingly to pass a resolution that urges the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make policy changes that will increase the number of U.S. Citizens from the pool of eligible lawful permanent residents. The resolution emphasizes that it is in the interest of the federal government, especially USCIS, to minimize barriers to naturalization by reducing fees for citizenship applicants and “offering alternatives like a sliding-scale income based approach or family unit fee.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti introduced the resolution which was co-sponsored by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, and St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay. As the resolution points out, 40 percent of Los Angeles residents are “foreign-born and hail from more than 110 countries in search of opportunity.”
“The contributions of immigrants have long strengthened our communities and our economy,” said Mayor Garcetti. “America’s Mayors call on USCIS to open the floodgates of opportunity by paving the way for more lawful permanent residents to become U.S. citizens.”
The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) – who has been calling for the reduction in the cost of U.S. citizenship for millions of eligible New Americans for over three years – sent a letter in support of the resolution to the USCM Criminal and Social Justice Standing Committee. There are dramatic benefits for local municipal governments when immigrants naturalize since citizenship increases local economic revenue, as well as creating “new economic opportunities and increased civic engagement.” Citizenship can also help New Americans increase their incomes, open businesses, and become homeowners.
“U.S. citizenship should not become a privilege limited to wealthy immigrants,” said NPNA Executive Director Joshua Hoyt. “An investment in immigrant integration pays dividends not just for immigrants and their families, but for our nation as a whole. NPNA thanks Mayor Garcetti and the co-sponsors for their leadership and Mayors from across the country for recognizing the benefits of citizenship and continues our call for USCIS to reduce the barriers to citizenship for the working poor.”
NPNA is part of the New Americans Campaign and, since January 2012, has helped 29,560 immigrants across the country become U.S. citizens, saving our communities $36,240,320 in legal fees and fee waivers. Each N‐400 application fee is $680 and legal fees, on average, cost each applicant $1,000. As the barriers to citizenship are reduced, NPNA will continue growing our programs to meet the increasing demand for citizenship services.
CASA de Maryland has worked in strengthening the capacity of individual immigrants and building strong immigrant communities. Their partner program, Citizenship Maryland, supports eligible permanent residents to become U.S. citizens, providing application assistance, citizenship and English classes, and citizenship fairs.
CASA de Maryland is thrilled that Leon Rodriguez, a former CASA Board Member, has just been appointed as Director of USCIS. “Leon Rodriguez’s history and commitment to public service is unmatched in government,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland. “We look forward to working with Leon in this new role so critical to our members, in ensuring that immigrants are integrated completely into de American community.”