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National initiative is committed to increasing citizenship access for Black immigrants

City of Tamarac (303225)
City of Tamarac Credit: City of Tamarac

The Cities for Citizenship (C4C) nonpartisan national initiative celebrates the milestone of 100 city and county partners. The initiative of cities and counties working to increase citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents and to encourage investment in citizenship and financial empowerment programs was co-founded by National Partnership for New Americans, Citi as the founding corporate partner, and the Center for  Popular Democracy in 2014.

The C4C network has grown from its three founding cities of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles  in 2014 to a robust network of now 100 cities and counties in 2021. The C4C network brings a  group of diverse cities and counties, ranging from small, midsize to large cities and counties  such as Santa Fe, NM, Honolulu, HI, Miami-Dade, FL and many more. In 2020, C4C welcomed  the participation of Aurora, CO, El Paso County, TX, Austin, TX, Yolo County, CA, New Rochelle,  NY, Cook County, IL, San Antonio, TX and Allegheny County, PA to the network. Tamarac,  Florida is recognized as the official 100th city/county to join the network.

“Tamarac’s growing diversity is one of our greatest strengths,” said City Commissioner Mike Gelin, who championed Tamarac’s Cities for Citizenship membership. “I am the son of Haitian immigrants. I serve on a City Commission with colleagues of Jamaican and Nicaraguan heritage. In Tamarac, we prioritize the importance of citizenship. We celebrate and support the unique needs of our multicultural community members and their contributions to the fabric of our City. We strive to create an environment where residents can pursue citizenship ambitions with  ease.”

“U.S. citizenship provides many rights and responsibilities, including the right to participate in  our democracy through voting,” said Michelle J. Gomez, Mayor of Tamarac. “We know that  among our 67,000 residents, about 40 percent of them are foreign born or speak languages  other than English at home. We are excited about this opportunity to further assist residents on the path to citizenship in our wonderfully multicultural community. Tamarac is truly proud to  be Cities for Citizenship’s 100th partner.”

“Today, we celebrate a milestone amongst a growing network of cities & counties that have been dedicated to investing in and supporting citizenship and immigrant communities across  the country. We know that cities and counties thrive by fully welcoming and including  immigrants; and, we are honored to coordinate a growing network of local leaders committed  to supporting our immigrant communities and working to make citizenship accessible to all,” added Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans.

“We are delighted that there are now 100 city and county partners unified in their commitment  to immigrant communities through their membership in the Cities for Citizenship network. Cities and counties across the country have demonstrated true leadership by  recognizing their immigrant constituents as an integral part of their communities and investing in their ability to thrive and fully participate in our democracy,” said Ana Maria Archila, Co Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy.

“Citi is proud to welcome Tamarac, FL to Cities for Citizenship and celebrate this milestone,  which reflects years of multisector collaboration and innovation,” said Michelle Thornhill, U.S. Director of Community Relations, Citi Community Investing & Development. “The C4C network  has proven to be a vital resource for municipalities aiming to strengthen economic opportunity  for legal permanent residents, their families and their communities.”

Over 9 million lawful permanent residents (LPRs) are eligible to naturalize across the United  States – 52 percent of whom are low-income. Data shows that with naturalization, new citizens  realize an eight to eleven percent increase in individual earnings, and home ownership  increases by 6.3 percentage points. In addition to a host of benefits for individuals, naturalization can have important macroeconomic benefits for local communities. Cities for Citizenship has helped to break down barriers for those who might have otherwise missed out  on applying for citizenship. In 2018, the C4C “America is Home” $5 million grant program was  launched to support new and emerging naturalization efforts in order to increase citizenship  rates among the immigrant community.

Over the past six years, the Cities for Citizenship initiative celebrates its impact of over:

• 2,845,929 people that have been reached through the C4C network with citizenship related information

• 59,383 people who have received direct citizenship application assistance through C4C  partners

• 38,659 people who received financial information and services (waivers, counseling,  scholarship, loans and grant assistance) through a C4C partner

The Cities for Citizenship (C4C) initiative is co-chaired by Mayors Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles,  Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot of Chicago, and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City.