USCIS, Immigrants Push Citizenship Efforts

Executive OrdersImmigration advocates are stepping up their fight to win a solid political voice with a renewed focus on encouraging legal permanent residents—green card holders—to gain citizenship status. In the effort, organizations in large cities across are developing events and information campaigns targeted to those immigrants who are eligible, but haven’t yet taken the plunge to naturalized citizenship.

A recent New York Times story attributes the movement as unfolding in two veins: “anti-immigrant sentiment soaring among Republican presidential candidates” as well as the stall on reform measures in Congress and in the courts.

The resulting push to motivate some 8.8 million immigrants who carry green cards to dive into the citizenship process before 2016 elections is the only proactive measure available to advocates. Over the summer, the paradigm translated to a concerted USCIS effort–the Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Initiativeto support large cities with their outreach to eligible immigrants.  Besides New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and Atlanta are also a focus of the USCIS initiative.

USCIS support includes print ads, video public services announcement and also digital and radio spots. Besides English and Spanish, outreach includes materials in Chinese and Vietnamese. A second phase of the campaign, which will begin in September, will include additional print and digital media spots.

The end goal of the organizing effort is to tap the Latino demographic of the legal permanent resident population In the state. With this, activists aim at the 80 percent of naturalized Latino citizens cast their vote for President Obama in 2012, according to reported numbers from polling and research firm Polling Decisions. Presumably, this same bloc will vote a similar endorsement for the Democratic nominee.

In New York, the partnership plays out in the creation of “New Americans Corners” in all branches of the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Library systems. The corners support permanent residents by offering citizenship and English as a Second Language classes, along with tools and resources to help them prepare for the naturalization interview and test.

In the announcement of the initiative, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We know that citizenship opens up opportunities – opportunities to vote, to get a better job, to feel more like a part of the community – and we want to support our immigrant friends and neighbors however we can.”