NEW YORK CITY (TIP): Mayor de Blasio announced, September 17, a new initiative with the City’s library system to develop NYCitizenship, a public-private partnership that will install comprehensive citizenship assistance services at library branches citywide to increase naturalization rates. The NYCitizenship announcement comes alongside a nationwide campaign in support of immigration integration initiatives and naturalization efforts, led by the nearly 100 members of Cities United for Immigration (CUIA) in partnership with the White House, Cities for Citizenship and a number of other national organizations.
“Citizenship is a vital piece of our citywide strategy to promote economic opportunity and equity – and cities are central to protecting and promoting the inclusion and diversity that make our country so great,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Citizenship is linked to increased wages, higher rates of homeownership, and other important factors in helping people unlock vital civic and economic opportunity. We’re proud to stand with cities and other leaders nationwide in expanding opportunity to citizenship for those who have long been hardworking, productive members of our country.”
“Barriers such as lack of information or access to quality, affordable legal services prevent immigrants from taking the final step to become a citizen – we can change that,” said Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal. “By providing New Yorkers access to citizenship information and legal support at places they already frequent, such as our City’s public libraries, we can work to ensure more city residents are able to access the benefits and privileges they’re entitled to as citizens.”
“The NYCitizenship Initiative will help forge a clear path to citizenship – a journey that can be daunting and complex for so many New Yorkers. By providing thorough information, legal assistance and help with application procedures, we can ensure that more individuals navigate this process successfully and enjoy the stability and opportunities that come with U.S. citizenship. I thank the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and our City’s libraries for partnering together in this effort to increase meaningful civic participation,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Through NYCitizenship, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will work with the City’s libraries to provide free, comprehensive information on applying for citizenship as well as legal assistance in completing applications. The program also integrates financial education to help new citizens on their path to financial sustainability. Mayor de Blasio made the announcement as part of a naturalization ceremony for 100 New Yorkers hosted by City Hall in celebration of Citizenship Day.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also kicked off the City’s first-ever Citizenship Week of Action to encourage more New Yorkers to become U.S. citizens through citywide outreach, information sessions and legal clinics. The events will be held in collaboration with faith, labor, and community organizations starting today through September 22, culminating on National Voter Registration Day. Over 150 volunteers will engage with immigrant community members where they live, work and worship to assist over 500 applicants. The list of events can be found at nyc.gov/nycitizenship
Expanding on the recently-created New American Corners in City libraries, a partnership with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (US-CIS) to provide recent immigrants with access to information and resources about citizenship and entrepreneurship, the City is working to further its assistance to permanent legal residents in order to encourage them to apply for citizenship by providing legal services.
Approximately 700,000 immigrant New Yorkers are one step away from citizenship. Half of them are low-income, and increasing access to citizenship services is a powerful tool for promoting economic stability. Achieving citizenship can improve earning potential, increase social and economic mobility, open access to voting, and protect against deportation. As individuals achieve economic security and build more stable families, our city and our communities benefit. Positive outcomes include increased tax revenue, less reliance on emergency assistance programs, and an increase in civic participation.