Cities for Citizenship

11 cities are now actively promoting citizenship

Eleven Major U.S. Cities Join Citizenship Initiative at National Event

National initiative to aid eligible permanent residents complete the path toward American citizenship through expanded naturalization and financial capability programs

LOS ANGELES – Today, December 15, 2014, leading officials from eleven major U.S. cities announced their active participation in Cities for Citizenship, an initiative launched by the cities of Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago in September which aims to increase citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents to forge more inclusive and economically robust cities.

Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chattanooga, Denver, Milwaukee, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. announced their involvement in this growing initiative at a special event during the National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC 2014) and were congratulated by Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services , who provided the keynote address and said USCIS would be “a willing partner” with cities taking leadership in support of citizenship.  NIIC 2014, co-hosted by the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) is the largest gathering on immigrant integration in the nation, with over 1,000 attendees from immigrant advocacy organizations, business, labor, philanthropy, government, and academia.

Launched in partnership with NPNA, the Center for Popular Democracy, and Citi, the founding corporate partner, Cities for Citizenship enables cities to expand naturalization and financial capability programs, as well as access to legal assistance, microloans and financial counseling, boosting economic opportunity for immigrants and communities nationwide.

There are currently 8.8 million legal permanent residents in America who are eligible for citizenship. These are documented residents, who pay taxes and work lawfully, but 52% of whom remain low-income. Their naturalization would provide access to better paying jobs (up to an 11% increase to their personal earnings), academic scholarships, and a myriad of other benefits. It would also provide a $37 billion to $52 billion lift to the national economy over the next ten years while dramatically boosting local economies, as highlighted in a recent report, Citizenship: A Wise Investment for Cities.

“Los Angeles has always welcomed dreamers from across the globe and I'm proud we are working together to ensure the next chapter of our great nation's history is one of equal opportunity and inclusiveness,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who welcomed participants from all over the country. “Immigrants are a key driver of Los Angeles’ economy and the more we can work with the immigrant community instead of against it, the better our city will be for us all.”

"The National Partnership for New Americans believes that Cities for Citizenship will encourage millions of immigrants to take the important step of becoming U.S. citizens and full participants in the economic, cultural, and civic life of this nation,” said NPNA Co-chair Eva Millona. “City after city is stepping up for citizenship and strengthening the movement for immigrant integration."

"Citizenship, for those who are eligible, is an economic asset for families and cities and a powerful tool of achieving financial inclusion and integration" said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. "Today's expansion of Cities for Citizenship demonstrates the critical role of municipalities in ensuring that legal permanent residents get access to the support they may need."

Other initiative partners will be participating in NIIC 2014, including Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO, who joins a panel focused on building partnerships in support of immigrant integration. At the launch event, Cities for Citizenship leaders announced the addition of several partner organizations with strong ties to immigrant communities across the country, including AFL-CIO, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), the National Federation of Credit Development Unions, SEIU 32BJ, and Welcoming America.

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