As only a small percentage of eligible immigrants apply for U.S. citizenship, The New Americans Campaign increased its efforts to help more permanent residents become legal U.S. citizens. Although approximately 8.5 million immigrants were eligible for naturalization in 2011, only approximately 750,000 filled out an application, according to Cindy Chang’s recent Los Angeles Times article.
There are a number of reasons why these individuals choose not to apply for citizenship, including a fear of the English and civics exams and the inability to pay the $680 application fee. The New Americans Campaign will help immigrants with these issues and others, with $20 million funded by major foundations across the country. Officials urge these workers to become citizens so they can qualify for a larger range of job and education opportunities, vote in local and federal elections, and feel more connected to the United States, the source reported.
“It’s one of those things where you don’t know how good it is unless you experience it,” Phyllis Coven, director of the Los Angeles U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, told Chang. “It’s a great gift, an honor and a privilege to hold a U.S. passport and become a full member of this society.”
The New Americans Campaign is expected to last between three and five years. Efforts will target the cities of Los Angeles, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, New York and San Jose, as statistics show that 40 percent of immigrants who qualify for citizenship live in these cities. The New Americans will provide outreach efforts, application guidance, workshops and exam preparation to these immigrants so they can experience the joy and benefits of being United States citizens.
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