The Obama administration recently launched the Stand Stronger campaign, a new initiative aimed at encouraging green card holders (lawful permanent residents) to apply for U.S. citizenship.
According to the White House there are approximately 13.3 million green card holders living in the United States, and 8.8 million of them are eligible to apply for citizenship. In a recent press release, the administration stated that “At its heart, America is and has always been a nation of immigrants. Immigrants and refugees contribute to our country’s social and cultural fabric, and are critical to our country’s continued economic prosperity.”
Unfortunately, for many eligible green card holders the process of applying for citizenship can be a costly ordeal filled with confusion and anxiety.
The main purpose of Stand Stronger is to offer additional resources and support to inspire more eligible green card holders to take the next step in their American journey. Obama hopes to use grassroots advocacy, celebrity ambassadors, and non-profit partners to educate the immigrant community about the real benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen, while reducing many of the perceived fears that green card holders have when it comes to applying for citizenship.
Although the Stand Stronger initiative is multifaceted, including partnerships with local communities and private sector support, today I will focus on the three programs set to roll out that have us the most excited.
U.S. Citizen Celebrity Ambassadors
Stories are powerful. Realizing this, the President has appointed several celebrity ambassadors, they themselves immigrants and naturalized citizens, to promote citizenship and naturalization among the immigrant community. They include chef José Andrés, actress Diane Guerrero, singer Dave Matthews, and former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. These ambassadors will share their own inspirational stories to increase awareness of the significant contributions that new Americans have made in our country.
Grants to Community Organizations Supporting Citizenship
Over the past seven years, the U.S. government has awarded $53 million in grants to public and private nonprofit organizations, helping more than 122,000 green card holders prepare for citizenship and fully integrate into American society. Last week, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will offer $10 million in additional grants to 40 organizations in 25 states in an effort to help more immigrants prepare for citizenship.
Welcoming Communities AmeriCorps
Through partnerships with the YMCA, Catholic Charities, and national refugee resettlement organizations, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will be dispatching 150 Welcoming Communities AmeriCorps members to approximately 100 different communities throughout the United States. These volunteers will assist their local partners with the development and implementation of programs to help educate and integrate immigrants into the local community, thereby increasing civic action and participation.
With so much negative and incorrect information circulating about the immigrant community, these new programs will hopefully encourage more green card holder residents to stand stronger with Obama, become U.S. citizens, and make their voices count!