Each year on September 17, we come together as a nation of immigrants to celebrate Citizenship Day. This is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of being a U.S. citizen and recognize the many lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in our communities who are on their journey to becoming U.S. citizens.
Since the founding of our nation, the United States has inspired people of every heritage and faith to travel to our shores. One thing these immigrants have shared is a hope for freedom and a more prosperous future. These values are inscribed in the Constitution, signed on September 17, 1787.
The path to U.S. citizenship, however, is not always smooth. For many LPRs, the journey to successful naturalization is often harrowing and riddled with twists and turns that are confusing to navigate. Not only do LPRs face the high costs associated with securing legal assistance and filing a Form N-400 Application for Naturalization, but they also confront perplexing legal questions that might result in a deportation order. Not surprisingly, only a fraction - 700,000 or just eight percent - of the 8.5 million eligible LPRs naturalize each year.
CLINIC advocates for policies to help vulnerable LPRs overcome these hurdles. CLINIC has addressed issues to USCIS concerning the new Form N-400 and the N-648 medical certification for disability exceptions. CLINIC has also supported its affiliates with over $7 million in flow-through funding to provide citizenship services to LPRs around the country. As one of the founding organizations of the New Americans Campaign (NAC), CLINIC has provided nearly $2 million in flow-through funding to its affiliates in Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Miami, alone. Through these efforts, CLINIC and its partners have helped over 100,000 LPRs with their naturalization applications and covered $85 million in legal and application fees for low-income immigrants and their families.
CLINIC and its network are dedicated to ensuring that LPRs will reach the final step in their journey to U.S. citizenship. For more information on the New Americans Campaign and the ways the CLINIC network is joining together celebrate citizenship year round, visit:
*Rommel Calderwood is the Project Coordinator for the New Americans Campaign
Photo from the Department of Labor