Celebrating 227 years after the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the privilege and responsibility of citizenship remain top of mind for many of the nation’s immigrants. It’s in this light that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) celebrated Constitution Week in September by awarding $10 million in grants to help permanent residents prepare and apply for U.S. citizenship.
Distributing the money across 40 organizations in 24 states and the District of Columbia, federal funding to support citizenship services for permanent residents will be awarded to these organizations through September 2016. Currently in its sixth year, the USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant Program has so far helped more than 93,000 permanent residents with citizenship preparation services. By September 2016, 32,000 additional permanent residents will receive preparation service help.
Besides the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, which has awarded $43 million since its inception, another important part of USCIS citizen preparation outreach is its Citizenship Resource Center, a web resource. It provides learning materials geared toward the naturalization process. USCIS also partners with federal and municipal agencies to raise awareness of the rights responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship. These are lessons that can be tapped by any of the estimated 8.8 million permanent residents around the country who are eligible to apply for naturalization.
According to information on the USCIS site, grant recipients represent:
- Most of the states with the largest permanent resident populations—18 out of 20: California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Washington, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona, Ohio, Minnesota, Colorado, and Connecticut
- Most of the top metropolitan areas—eight of the top 10—with the most new permanent residents in the past decade: New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, greater Washington, Chicago, Houston, Boston, and Atlanta
- Most of the top states for the highest number—nine of the top 10— states for naturalizations over the last two years: California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia and Pennsylvania
In sum, USCIS received and reviewed 160 grant applications.