Obama Admin. Pushes To Create ‘Citizenship Foundation’ To Encourage Immigrants To Naturalize

A new U.S. citizen holds an American flag during a naturalization ceremony in July. An Arizona law will require graduating high school seniors to pass the same civics test given to candidates for U.S. citizenship.
AP/Mark Lennihan

The Obama administration is taking another stab at working with Congress on immigration legislation.

Wednesday the Department of Homeland Security submitted a proposal to Congress calling for the creation of a “United States Citizenship Foundation.”

The legislative proposal would grant the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to create such a foundation as a nonprofit corporation that would focus on promoting and encouraging U.S. citizenship among immigrants in the U.S.

The Foundation is authorized to carry out its purpose by supporting innovative programs (through development grants), including those that incorporate the use of technology, to promote citizenship, immigrant civic integration, and instruction in the English language; fostering public education and awareness; engaging stakeholders in the citizenship and civic integration process (by working with all sectors of society to identify needs and initiatives); coordinating outreach and educational initiatives, as appropriate, with USCIS and other Federal agencies; and administering the Outstanding American by Choice award program.

It would be funded through donations, but would receive up to $3 million in “start-up funding” from USCIS fees and $500,000 each fiscal year for three years in “necessary non-monetary resources, detailed personnel, and equipment.”

A Senate GOP aide scoffed at the proposal in light of the country’s ongoing immigration problems.

“Obama sends Congress immigration legislation not to deport criminal aliens, not to repatriate the ‘DREAMer’ wave from the ongoing border surge, not to build biometric exit-entry, not to crack down on the abuse of guest worker programs, not to improve screening of residency applications at USCIS, but to spend more money on citizenship enrollment efforts,” the aide emailed.

The administration’s push to naturalize immigrants is interesting when viewed through the prism of last year’s Eagle Forum report which concluded immigrants’ predilection for larger over small government will “doom the Republican Party” if immigration rates remain the same.

As of January 2012, about 8.8 million green-card holders were eligible to naturalize, out of 13.3 million legal permanent residents. The Census currently estimates that the total foreign-born population in the U.S. is about 43 million.

The push is even more striking when one considers that the immigration rate for new permanent residents over the last five years has averaged about 1.05 million.