The Obama administration is joining forces with New York City and its Mayor Bill de Blasio to encourage immigrants to naturalize and become U.S. citizens.
In a letter of agreement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Léon Rodríguez and de Blasio agree to work together to promote naturalization throughout the City of New York via outreach, advertising, education, and the like.
“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,” de Blasio said in a statement Wednesday.
The pair signed the agreement last week and it is slated to remain in effect until December 31, 2018. USCIS and the Mayor’s Office released the agreement to the public Wednesday.
“The Statue of Liberty is one of our nation’s greatest symbols of welcome, while the public libraries are the city’s most welcoming resources. Now more than ever, New Yorkers can begin their journey to U.S. citizenship at their local libraries. It is fitting that we sign this agreement with the city so close to Ellis Island, and with its own rich history as a beacon for new Americans,” Rodríguez added.
According to USCIS, the agreement will establish so called “New Americans Corners” in the more than 200 public libraries in Brooklyn, New York and Queens where immigrants learn more about becoming a citizen and prepare for the naturalization process.
“Libraries have long supported immigrants and new Americans, offering them a host of irreplaceable free services – such as citizenship and Speakers of Other Languages classes, job search help, materials in multiple languages, and more – in safe, welcoming environments,” New York Public Library President Tony Marx said.
According to the Mayor’s Office there are approximately 650,000 to 750,000 lawful permanent resident immigrants in New York City. USCIS notes that since 2004, more than 1.1 million immigrants in New York City have become U.S. citizens.
The strategy, per USCIS and the Mayor’s Office includes:
• Provide citizenship information through the City of New York and public library websites;
• Expand community partnerships to hold naturalization information sessions throughout the City of New York;
• Offer training on the naturalization process to library staff members; and
• Raise public awareness of immigration services scams.
New York City is the fifth city USCIS has partnered with to promote citizenship since 2013. The other cities include Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville and Atlanta.