NCLR and Arizona Affiliates Team Up for Citizenship Now Campaign to Encourage Permanent Residents to Naturalize

Information sessions, media campaign to highlight resources and tools available to complete the naturalization process

PHOENIX—NCLR (National Council of La Raza), in partnership with four Arizona-based community organizations from its Affiliate Network, including Chicanos Por La Causa, Friendly House, Promise Arizona and Campesinos Sin Fronteras, launched a new campaign today aimed at engaging and assisting eligible immigrants through the citizenship process. The collaborative effort titled Citizenship Now will serve as a public awareness campaign geared at providing eligible permanent residents—including many in the Latino community—with the knowledge, tools and resources needed to complete the naturalization process.

NCLR kicked off the campaign with a call center event hosted by Univision affiliate KTVW in Phoenix, and will continue to promote its efforts during the 2017 NCLR Annual Conference held July 8–11 at the Phoenix Convention Center. The campaign will include outreach events and information sessions throughout the summer and into the fall, culminating in events for Citizenship Day on September 17 and concluding on September 30.

A report by the Center for Migration Studies found that an estimated 8.5 million lawful permanent residents living in the United States were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens. In Arizona, more than 212,000 permanent residents are eligible for U.S. citizenship. The naturalization process is not easy one, requiring applicants to take a naturalization exam in English and civics, and pay a $725 application fee, among other requirements. Despite the growing pool of those eligible to naturalize, educational and financial barriers often deter many eligible immigrants from applying. Yet the biggest hurdle many face is lack of access to citizenship preparation tools.

As part of the campaign, NCLR will work with trusted Affiliate partners in Arizona to bolster community awareness of the citizenship eligibility criteria and process, expand access to online platforms that offer immigration legal services and financial services, and spotlight the NCLR Affiliates who will be working to provide legal assistance and English-learning workshops. Resources will be posted on the NCLR website and will also be highlighted during information sessions held during the 2017 National Latino Family Expo®.

“For the millions of Latinos who proudly call this nation home, naturalization plays a critical role in cementing their American identity. It presents an opportunity to integrate more fully into the cultural and social fabric of this great country,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía. “And becoming a naturalized citizen not only opens doors to economic opportunity, but has proven to be a boon for our national economy. I am proud to join forces with our Affiliates to encourage those who are eligible to take this important step to fulfilling their American dream.”

“We are excited to be part of this campaign to share information with people in our community to apply for citizenship now. Many people don’t know that they may be eligible for a fee waiver or a reduced fee if they meet certain requirements and we want to make sure that the high cost is not a barrier to eligible permanent residents in our community,” said Emma Torres, Executive Director of Campesinos Sin Fronteras.

“We are committed to ensuring that more people in our community know the benefits of applying for citizenship. As part of the Citizenship Now campaign, we will make sure that people know that they can get low-cost, high-quality assistance in applying for citizenship,” said Ramona Corrales, Program Manager, Family Immigration Services, Chicanos Por La Causa.

“During this campaign, we will conduct outreach and information sessions explaining that citizenship gives you the right to vote, freedom to travel, the ability to petition for your family to live in the United States, and access to more jobs. We want to share with our community that becoming a citizen is easier than people might think,” said Monica Manke, Immigration Legal Services Program Supervisor, Friendly House.

“Through citizenship, we have the best protection against deportation. We have seen increased interest among longtime permanent residents who are eligible to apply for citizenship now and through this campaign, we will provide them the assistance they may need to take this step,” said Petra Falcon, Executive Director of Promise Arizona.