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Citizenship and Immigration Services to Naturalize Over 27,000 New Citizens

First Posted: Sep 17, 2014 04:34 PM EDT
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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced thousands of individuals will be declared citizens as the country commemorates its Constitution.

The USCIS confirmed over 27,000 new citizens will be welcomed in more than 160 naturalization ceremonies between Sept. 17 and Sept. 23. Sept. 17 is Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and according to USCIS Director León Rodriguez, citizenship in the U.S. defines what Americans have in common: "equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities."

"As we celebrate our Constitution this week, more than 27,000 new U.S. citizens will now be able to vote, volunteer, participate, and become engaged in issues that are important to them and their families," said Rodriguez.

The Center for Popular Democracy, the National Partnership for New Americans and the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at USC Dornsife released a report finding citizenship has its benefits for immigrants. The report, "Citizenship: A Wise Investment for Cities," noted immigrants' earnings can increase between 8 percent and 11 percent after naturalization.

The report noted if half the number of eligible immigrants were naturalized, approximately $10 billion could be earned in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York alone. The three aforementioned cities have events called Cities for Citizenship (C4C), a national immigrant naturalization effort.

"Cities and their mayors are modeling progressive leadership to address national issues where the federal government has failed. Cutting through the administrative and financial red tape of the naturalization process is an outgrowth of that leadership and will benefit millions of American families who have been excluded from the privileges of citizenship," said Center for Popular Democracy Co-Executive Director Ana Maria Archila.

According to a statement from the CPD, the rate of people becoming U.S. citizens has been mixed due to application costs. In 2000, applying for U.S. citizenship cost $225, but it had increased to $680 by 2008. As a result, applying for citizenship has been "sensitive" as 52 percent of immigrants are low-income.

"We hope Cities for Citizenship will encourage millions of immigrants to take the important step of becoming U.S. citizens and full participants in the economic, cultural, and civic life of this nation," said National Partnership for New Americans Co-Chair Eva Millona, a naturalized U.S. citizen. "We are bringing immigrant organizations into partnership with Mayors to grow C4C in dozens of cities across the U.S. to break down barriers for immigrants, and grow ours into a truly participatory democracy.

Meanwhile, Houston and Los Angeles are hosting citizenship workshops by the New Americans Campaign, which will help eligible immigrants apply for U.S. citizenship.

"There are many reasons to become a citizen -- citizens stand to earn up to 11 percent more in wages over a lifetime, they have access to more and better-paying jobs, and they can help their kids under 18 become citizens," said Immigrant Legal Resource Center Executive Director Eric Cohen.

To commemorate Citizenship Day and Constitution Day, the USCIS is hosting the naturalization ceremonies at several national parks and landmarks including Yosemite National Park, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum and the Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey.

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