In November 2012, the New Americans Campaign was launched by a national network of more than 80 legal-service providers, businesses, faith-based organizations, community leaders and foundations. The campaign aims to fundamentally transform the entire system of naturalization assistance to encourage eligible individuals to naturalize, providing legal immigrants the support they need to become Americans.
Both Pro Bono Net and the Immigration Advocates network are among the campaign’s founding national partners. This unprecedented effort will focus on eight cities across the country with large populations of citizenship-eligible residents, helping more immigrants who are legal permanent residents become citizens and updating the system of naturalization assistance.
CitizenshipWorks, an online platform and a project of the Immigration Advocates Network, Pro Bono Net and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, plays an important role in the new national effort to make citizenship services more effective and accessible.
CitizenshipWorks provides easy-to-use online tools to help low and moderate-income individuals answer questions about their eligibility for naturalization, better understand the naturalization process, find legal help, and prepare for the naturalization tests. The site is empowering more legal permanent residents to take an active role in the citizenship process, putting them on a path toward deeper participation in civic life, including the ability to vote.
Currently, more than eight million individuals in the United States qualify for citizenship as legal residents. Often deterred by the complex process associated with naturalization as well as the costly fees, only 8% of eligible residents take the steps to become citizens each year. Within the next three years, the New Americans Campaign hopes to modernize and streamline the naturalization process. The campaign employs a number of innovative approaches, including:
- Novel partnerships between service providers, elected officials, faith-based organizations, the business sector and media to reach aspiring citizens;
- New technology tools to assist applicants; and
- Outreach to rural and other hard-to-reach communities
Read more about how the program is helping pave the road to citizenship for immigrants in this LA Times article.