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Campaign Updates

Report: Naturalization Will Bring Billions into Cities’ Economies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 17, 2014

Alison R. Park, Center for Popular Democracy
(917) 805-0830; apark@populardemocracy.org

Charlie McAteer, National Partnership for New Americans
(917) 696-1321; cmcateer@weareoneamerica.org

Gladys Malibiran, USC Dornsife Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration
(213) 792-2333; malibira@usc.edu

Report: Naturalization Will Bring Billions into Cities’ Economies

Data Reveals Naturalizing Only Half of Eligible Americans Would Lead to Multibillion-dollar gains in Largest Cities  

New York, NY and Chicago, IL, - Today, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) and the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) at USC Dornsife released a report titled Citizenship: A Wise Investment for Cities on the civic, economic, and social benefits of naturalization in American cities. The report release coincides with events in the Cities of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles announcing their mayors’ collaboration on a national immigrant naturalization effort called Cities for Citizenship (C4C), which was initiated in partnership with the report authors.

Immigrants’ earnings are estimated to increase 8-11% after naturalization, and the report highlights many beneficial ripple effects on the broader economy. If only half the number of eligible immigrants were to naturalize, it would cause a maximum benefit of almost $10 billion total for the three cities over the course of a decade; specifically, from $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion in Chicago, to $1.9 billion to $3.3 billion in Los Angeles, to $2.2 billion to $4.8 billion in New York. The report also found that the SSI eligibility of newly naturalized immigrants would relieve pressure on local assistance programs by bringing more federal dollars into the local economy.

“Cities and their mayors are modeling progressive leadership to address national issues where the federal government has failed,” said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy. “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. We ask both city leadership and the immigrant community to join us in this initiative.”

Report authors cite, in addition to a whole host of personal and administrative barriers, the prohibitive financial cost of applying for citizenship, which has risen from a combined $225 in 2000 to $680 in 2008. The rate of naturalization has proven to be sensitive to price, particularly given that 52% of eligible immigrants are low-income.

“America’s mayors are realizing that they can and should act now to encourage naturalization and immigrant integration,” said Manuel Pastor, Director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. “This study makes the benefits for regional economies crystal clear, not only by boosting immigrants’ earnings, but for its larger positive ripple effects. We hope other mayors will recognize the deep value of this initiative.”

“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 Eva Millona, the co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans and herself 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.

The report is a precursor to a multi-year study of the economic benefits of naturalization conducted in partnership with the City of New York and funded through Citi Community Development.

To read the full report, click here or visit www.CitiesforCitizenship.org.

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda. Visit www.populardemocracy.org and www.twitter.com/popdemoc.

The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) harnesses the collective power and resources of the country’s 20 largest regional immigrant advocacy organizations, aiming to advance the integration and active citizenship of immigrants to achieve a vibrant, just, and welcoming democracy for all. For more information, visit www.partnershipfornewamericans.org.

The mission of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) is to remake the narrative for understanding, and to shape the dialogue, on immigrant integration in America. CSII brings together: scholarship drawing on academic theory and rigorous research; data highlighting the process of immigrant integration over time; and engagement to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public.  Visit CSII’s new website for more information, http://dornsife.usc.edu/csii.