There are nearly 9.3 million people in the United States who are eligible to apply for citizenship, and a new effort is offering a financial incentive to cities that help those people.
Nonprofit organization National Partnership for New Americans recently announced a $5 million pot of cash for American cities that can match the grants while launching imaginative programs to get immigrants on their way to naturalization.
The key goal for newcomers who take advantage of the America is Home program is “refuge from persecution.” The organization’s four-year initiative is trying not to make this a political issue, and the organizers say they will include non-Latino communities in the effort, specifically Asian communities.
They also want to admit that the Trump administration’s increased deportation, the crackdown on naturalization cheaters, and family separation policy has created a sense of urgency for them.
“We’re doing our best to try to overcome those traumas that the immigrant community is suffering right now,” says the partnership’s George Escobar. “We’ve been seeing a lot of fear under the Trump administration.”
It is true that some people in the country do not understand this fear. After all, only six out of 10, or 63% of adults have moved to a new community at least once in their lives, and 37% of Americans have never left their hometown. For those, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to travel hundreds and even thousands of miles to escape the horrors of the place in which they came.
The new effort will grant $25,000 to $40,000 a year for two years to city-sponsored naturalization efforts that can match the grants with either money or in-kind services. Despite the recent spike in fear, there are still many people who are motivated to join the ranks of America’s voting class.
“We’re seeing high numbers for naturalization after the election,” said Sarah Mesick, programs and training manager for the National Partnership for New Americans. “This is an opportunity to support the interest that’s already there.”