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09/27/2018 | Building an Immigrant Justice Initiative

New Cities for Citizenship Report Explores Local Benefits of Naturalization

In September, the Center for Popular Democracy, National Partnership for New Americans, and Cities for Citizenship (C4C) published the report America Is Home: How Individuals, Families, Cities & Counties Benefit by Investing in Citizenship. This new report highlights the work of Cities for Citizenship, a major national initiative aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents and encouraging cities across the country to invest in citizenship programs. C4C has grown to nearly 70 participating cities and counties since its founding in 2014. It is chaired by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, with support from CPD and the National Partnership for New Americans.

There are currently 8.8 million lawful permanent residents who are eligible to naturalize across the United States. Yet, each year fewer than nine percent of those who are eligible to naturalize take the important step of applying for citizenship due to a variety of barriers. C4C is premised on the idea that when municipal leaders develop and invest in naturalization efforts, it produces substantial economic and civic benefits for all of their constituents. In addition to a host of civic benefits—including the ability to vote in elections, serve on a jury, and run for elected office—the report focuses on the significant economic benefits that naturalizing brings to individuals and local communities.

When someone becomes a US citizen, that person is more likely to secure employment, access higher paying jobs, and to own a home. In addition to a host of benefits for individuals, naturalization can have important macroeconomic benefits for local communities. These include a growth in spending power, higher GDP, and increased tax revenues, all of which can boost local economies. Finally, investing in naturalization can advance financial inclusion for immigrant families who are much more likely to access formal banking services after naturalizing. Recognizing these benefits, the C4C participating cities are working to increase citizenship among eligible lawful permanent residents around the country; these local efforts are highlighted throughout the report. Read the full report on our website.