The Obama administration is launching a new, multilingual campaign to encourage eligible immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
“It’s not about changing who you are, it’s about adding a new chapter to your journey, as an American citizen. And to our journey as a nation of immigrants,” President Obama says in a promotional video released Thursday.
“If you’re eligible, commit to becoming a citizen today,” he adds. “Help others who are ready to take this step as well. It is an important step for you and an important step for our nation. Join us, together we can make America stand even stronger.”
According to the White House, there are 13.3 million legal permanent residents in the United States, 8.8 million of whom are eligible to apply for citizenship.
Obama’s national campaign is intended to educate and encourage those eligible to become citizens and is an aspect of the White House Task Force on New Americans effort established as part of Obama’s controversial November 20, executive amnesty.
The White House is kicking off its “‘Stand Stronger’ Citizenship Awareness Campaign” Thursday, Constitution Day, and will hold outreach events and over 200 naturalization ceremonies for 36,000 new citizens through the next week.
As part of the effort, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is expanding its services to new, rural areas, allowing credit card payments for naturalization fees and launching new tools to aid immigrants seeking to become citizens.
Additionally USCIS will be expanding its use, reach and the variety of languages for public service announcements promoting citizenship. USCIS has already placed PSAs in California, New York, Texas, and Florida. Thursday the White House said USCIS will being to place PSAs in New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, and Arizona. All together, those states bear 75 percent of all the legal permanent residents in the U.S.
USCIS is also expected to be expanding its language offering beyond Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese, to include Korean and Tagalog.
The President, meanwhile, has appointed celebrity ambassadors to promote citizenship and naturalization: chef José Andrés, actress Diane Guerrero, singer Dave Matthews, and former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.
The administration is also offering grants to non-profits aimed at preparing immigrants for citizenship — including an announcement Thursday that USCIS is offering $10 million in additional grants to 40 organizations in 25 states.
Other aspects of the campaign include encouraging communities to be welcoming to immigrants, partnership with municipalities to push citizenship, and placing AmeriCorps members with non-profits aiding immigrants, and offering free legal services to low-income immigrants.
See Obama’s Message: