Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today the launch of Cities for Citizenship (C4C), a major initiative by the mayors of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents and encouraging cities across the country to invest in citizenship programs.
“I’m proud to stand today with my fellow mayors Rahm Emanuel and Eric Garcetti as we launch the national Cities for Citizenship initiative,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This win-win effort will help us create more inclusive cities that lift up everyone. From increased economic activity to larger voting and tax bases, the advantages of citizenship will not only expand opportunity to our immigrant families, but to all New Yorkers and residents nationwide.”
The national C4C initiative builds on the Mayor’s pledge to reduce economic inequality and improve immigrant integration in our City. Benefits of naturalization range from higher earning potential home ownership rates, to increased voting and political participation. Naturalizing the 684,000 legal permanent residents who are currently eligible for U.S. citizenship is estimated to add up to $4.1 billion over 10 years to the City’s economy.
“Increasing immigrant access to citizenship is a powerful tool for fighting poverty,” saidNisha Agarwal, New York City Commissioner for Immigrant Affairs. “This initiative will help thousands of people who haven’t taken the final step to citizenship because of cost, fear of a cumbersome process, or access to legal counsel.”
The announcement comes in conjunction with a pledge by Citi Community Development to contribute $1.15 million to the C4C initiative, which will be coordinated by two leading national non-profits, The Center for Popular Democracy and the National Partnership for New Americans. Citi Community Development is making its largest contribution to date to this public-private partnership, and the funds will be divided among New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
The funds will be used by New York City for NYCitizenship, the first large-scale, coordinated effort by a municipal government to connect low- and moderate-income New Yorkers to free, high-quality legal assistance for naturalization applications and to address the financial barriers to naturalization. NYCitizenship works with City agencies to connect the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers eligible to become U.S. citizens with the critical assistance they need to take the final step to citizenship, including legal advice, application assistance, financial counseling, and case management support. NYCitizenship is also forging new partnerships with the public libraries to promote awareness of citizenship and further expand the City and the libraries’ citizenship work.
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will also commission a first-of-its kind study on the economic impact of citizenship programs for mayors across the country. The study will demonstrate the importance of new municipal investments in naturalization, as well as the financial impact of connecting immigrant communities with legal support.