Philadelphia, March 23, 2015– The City of Philadelphia announced the launch of Step Up To Citizenship, a campaign designed to increase the accessibility ofthe naturalization process in the United States by assisting Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) who are eligible to become citizens in the application for citizenship.
“There are literally thousands of Philadelphians, many who have lived, worked and raised families in the United States for years, who could benefit from becoming U.S. citizens,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “The Step Up To Citizenship campaign will help these residents navigate the often complicated process to becoming a citizen so that they may access all the rights and benefits afforded with that status. Being a United States citizen is a crucial step in achieving the American Dream. I want to thank the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs and all of our partner organizations for their efforts to support citizenship opportunities in Philadelphia.”
Step Up To Citizenship is coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs (MOIMA), the American Immigration Lawyers Association of PA (AILA), the Pennsylvania chapter of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS-PA), and the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC). The campaign is part of the national collaborative, Cities for Citizenship (C4C).
According to C4C, there are more than 8.8 million immigrants in the United States who are currently eligible to become citizens, with an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 living in the City of Philadelphia.
“Two major barriers to citizenship for immigrants is the $680 government fee and the lack of knowledge of eligibility requirements; fortunately, individuals who are receiving public benefits and living 150% of the poverty level or below are excused from paying government fees through applying for a fee waiver. The Step Up To Citizenship campaign will provide information on fee waivers and the eligibility requirements for naturalization,” said Judi Bernstein-Baker, HIAS-PA’s Executive Director.
Jennifer Rodriguez, MOIMA’s Executive Director, added, “The status quo hurts both immigrants and the cities they call home. The benefits of naturalization to cities include increased voting and political participation, improved connections between communities and local services, and strengthened economies thanks to new citizens’ increased earning potential”.
Step Up To Citizenship will host Information Sessions throughout 2015 and an Application Review Day, culminating in a final Pro Bono Citizenship Day event on September 19, 2015, in which campaign organizers will focus on reaching low income Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) needing application assistance. The campaign will also offer assistance in applying for fee-waivers of the government application fee.
For full details on the campaign please visit www.StepUpToCitizenship.org, like facebook.com/SU2Citizenship, and follow @SU2Citizenship
For more information about MOIMA visit: http://www.phila.gov/ima/