The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced $1.5 million in new funding to the New Americans Campaign, a national network of immigration organizations working to ensure that lawful permanent residents of the United States have the opportunity to become citizens.
Since 2011, the campaign, which is led by the San Francisco-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center, has offered citizenship workshops and naturalization resources to eligible green card holders and has generated more than 300,000 applications for naturalization, 45,000 of them in the Knight communities where the program operates — Detroit, Charlotte, Miami, and San Jose. With the new funding, the campaign will expand to three additional cities — Akron, Saint Paul, and Philadelphia — and will expand its efforts to test innovative strategies that assist in the naturalization process and encourage cities and local partners to develop and share best practices.
Currently, there are 8.8 million legal permanent residents in the U.S. who are eligible to become citizens, and the demand for citizenship is expected to remain high, even as the processing time for naturalization applications increases.
"The length of time that an application takes to be reviewed before the final step in the process, the in-person interview, has increased to more than nine months on average," said Knight Foundation director of Community and National Initiatives George Abbott. "As Knight seeks to build more informed and engaged communities, we believe that citizenship should be accessible to all who qualify for it. We look forward to working alongside the campaign and its local partners to achieve that goal in the next two years."