Nurturing Naturalization: Could Lowering the Fee Help?
Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration and National Partnership for New Americans, February 2013, 21 pp.
finds that the $680 naturalization fee has become a major barrier to applying for citizenship for many legal
permanent residents (LPRs), particularly low-income immigrants, who constitute approximately 52 percent of the eligible population.
The fee has risen dramatically over the past 20 years: from $95 in 1997 to $595 (plus a biometric fee of $85) in 2007.
Although earlier studies had suggested that the demand for citizenship services is not very price sensitive, this study draws
on new data from the Office of Immigration Statistics and the American Community Survey to show that "fee increases are
associated with a dramatic decline in the naturalization of less-educated (and likely lower income) immigrants, an increase
in the number of years immigrants wait to become citizens, and a change in the national origin of the naturalizing population,
in particular a relative reduction in those who were born in Mexico." The authors note that, despite the emergence of
private microloan programs to cover the cost of naturalization, "absolute fee reductions" or a change in the fee
structure would better encourage citizenship, which "is good for both the greater society at large and for immigrants
themselves." (Denzil Mohammed)
Rock the (NATURALIZED) Vote,
Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, University of Southern California, October, 2012, 29 pp.
paper analyzes the size and voting patterns of the newly naturalized (since 2000) voting age population in the United States.
New York and New Jersey lead the country in the proportion of the voting age citizen population who are newly naturalized:
7 percent in both states. However, significant numbers also exist in swing states such as Florida (6 percent) and Nevada
(5.1 percent). The authors suggest that the political leanings of this group "may be critical in a tight electoral season,"
especially because there is some evidence that the newly naturalized may be more motivated to vote "if they attain citizenship
in a time period more charged by political tensions around immigration." An interactive map
on the Center's website enables ready retrieval of state and county-level data on the newly naturalized.
Segregating American Citizenship: Latino Voter Disenfranchisement in 2012,
Advancement Project, September 24, 2012, 21 pp.
This report finds that 23 states currently have laws
and policies that threaten to undermine the electoral participation of an estimated 25.6 million Latino citizens. Starting
in 2010, 16 states began to purge alleged noncitizens from electoral rolls to prevent voter fraud. Despite their status
as naturalized citizens and registered voters, Latino citizens are vulnerable to unfair removal from electoral rolls.
Legislation has also been introduced in 14 states to require prospective voters to bring documentary proof of citizenship,
such as a birth certificate, passport, or naturalization papers. In many cases, these documents are not readily available
and must be paid for or tracked down. In certain states, a person can wait months before receiving a birth certificate.
Strict laws requiring unexpired, government-issued photo identification before voting have also been passed in 9 states. Approximately
16 percent of Latinos do not possess photo ID compared to 6 percent of non-Hispanic Whites. As a result of these measures,
Latinos and other citizens of color are stripped of equal rights and placed at a greater disadvantage than U.S. born citizens.
The Advancement Project recommends that states comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requirement that election
list maintenance occur outside the 90-day period prior to a federal election. The Project also recommends that states repeal
strict photo ID laws and not require documentary proof of citizenship, but rather follow the NVRA guidelines to establish
eligibility to vote. (Lorin Mordecai)
Voting Law Changes in 2012,
Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law, 2011, 56 pp.
Since 2011, restrictive voting
laws have been passed by state legislatures across the country. Changes include laws requiring voters to show photo identification
or provide proof of citizenship; laws curtailing the ability of voters to vote early or via absentee ballot; laws limiting
voter registration drives, and laws limiting the rights of those with felony convictions to participate in the electoral process.
This study examines each of these strategies in detail and attempts to understand the local political dynamics that produced
them. The report estimates that more than 5 million voters could be deterred from voting because of the news laws, many in
battleground states for the 2012 presidential election. According to the authors, restrictive voting laws tend to be
highly contested along party lines, with Republicans largely supporting and Democrats largely opposing such laws. Although
proof-of-citizenship laws are often justified as a way of preventing non-citizens from voting, the cumulative effect of restrictive
voting laws is to deter voting by college-age youth, minority, low-income, voters with disabilities, and other disenfranchised
groups -- leading opponents to argue that the new laws are designed to suppress the Democratic vote.
A Report from California Civic Participation Funders, 2012, 12 pp.
A group of 10 California
funders interested in social justice issues -- called the "California Civic Participation Funders" -- joined
together in 2010 to promote the ability of grassroots organizations to reach out and engage underrepresented groups of voters.
The funders targeted four California counties considered "bellwethers of the state's political future": San
Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside. By "stepping out of their issue silos," they were able to pool
risk and learn from each other. Unlike other funder collaboratives, these foundations did not create a joint fund, but
rather made their own grant decisions. However, they did so "in a highly coordinated way, i.e. with an understanding
of the groups' broader goals and objectives, and of how their organizations' investments fit into a bigger puzzle." This
case study discusses the goals and methodology of the collaborative, which remains a work in progress.
Immigrant Integration: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Could Better Assess Its Grant
General Accounting Office (GAO), Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives,
December, 2011, 41 pp.
In response to a request from Congress, this report examines the "extent to which
the federal government has programs in place to support and coordinate immigrant integration activities." In order to
reduce the study to manageable size, the study focuses on the programs of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS),
particularly the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program of the Office of Citizenship (OoC), as well as other federal mechanisms
to coordinate public and private efforts to promote immigrant integration. The grant program -- OoC's largest single budget
activity -- consumed $19.8 million of the $42.6 million available to OoC during the three fiscal years ending in 2011.
The report discusses some of the challenges associated with evaluating the program and recommends that USCIS establish interim
milestones for conducting internal and external evaluations of the grant program.
Reforming the Naturalization Process,
National Foundation for American Policy, Policy Brief, August, 2011, 19 pp.
This paper outlines
a series of steps that could be taken by the Obama administration to improve access to naturalization. The paper consists
of a compilation of policy reform recommendations from four organizations: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,
the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the National Immigration Forum, and the Immigration Policy Center; as well as the views
of two consulting immigration attorneys: Cyrus D. Mehta, and Gary Endelman. Among key recommendations are: a reconsideration
of the "continuous residence" requirement for naturalization to reflect the realities of today's globalized world;
simplification of the "complex" and "obscure" language in the application form; restoration of off-site
naturalization interviews at local community centers, especially important for immigrants with disabilities who live in cities
not served by USCIS field offices; and reducing the escalating cost of naturalization brought about by the exclusive
reliance on "user fees" to cover USCIS costs and the "taxation" of immigrants to cover the cost of unrelated
USCIS services, such as refugee processing.
The Role of Civil Society in EU Migration Policy: Perspectives on the European Union's
Engagement in its Neighborhood,Migration Policy institute and the European University Institute, June, 2011, 17 pp
As the European
Union seeks to stimulate the development of civil society institutions in North Africa, this report reminds us that EU policymakers
have not been consistent in promoting the development of these institutions in Europe. "Rhetorical commitments"
have not always been matched by tangible results on the ground. "Having a pro forma seat at the table," doesn't
always equate to real policy influence. This report makes the case for the active and meaningful involvement of migrant-serving
organizations in policy development and implementation. It also suggests specific strategies to make interactions productive
and useful to both governments and civil society organizations. Among the recommendations are "more centralized civil-society
representation," through the formation of organizational networks with common goals, and an "emphasis on the function
rather than the form of engagement."
U.S. Naturalizations: 2010
Department of Homeland Security, 2011, 4 pp.
This report presents information on the number and characteristics
of persons naturalizing during 2010. For the second year in a row, the number of new citizens declined over the previous year.
There were 17% fewer naturalizations in 2010 than in 2009. However, the number of new applicants for naturalization
increased by 25% in 2010 over the previous year, suggesting that new citizen numbers may rise in future years.
Benchmarks of Immigrant Civic Engagement,
Prepared for Carnegie Corporation of New York by Rob Paral and Associates, July, 2010, 42 pp.
report contains a compilation of data on naturalization rates in the United States, including state breakdowns and data on
specific immigrant groups. For example, noncitizens are 56% of immigrant adults in the country as a whole, but are a higher
percentage in states like North Carolina (71%) and Texas (68%), and lower in states like New York and New Jersey (both 49%).
Lower rates are probably indicative of the greater age spread, and longer periods of residence among immigrants in states
that have functioned as long-time gateways. Despite these lower rates, New York and New Jersey rank among the top five states
in the number of green card holders eligible to naturalize. The report also examines voter registration and voting rates for
naturalized citizens and notes that 40% of naturalized adults in the U.S. are not registered compared with 28% of the native-born,
with wide variations among the states. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for foundations interested in investing
in naturalization and voter registration as "pillars of immigrant integration."
Context Matters: Latino Immigrant Civic Engagement in Nine U.S. Cities,
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Mexico Institute, 2010, 65 pp.
Funded by a
grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, this applied research project examines the local factors that
influence the nature and extent of immigrant civic participation in selected communities in the United States. A jumping-off
point for this study is the spring 2006 immigrant mobilizations, described as "the largest (American) mass public protest
issue, ever." The report pays particular attention to the strength of local coalitions, the role of Spanish-language
media, the support of local religious institutions, and the role of unions. Separate reports are available for some of
the cities studied in this project: Charlotte
, Chicago, Fresno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles
, Omaha, San Jose, Tucson, and Washington, D.C.
Official Language Proficiency and the Civic Participation of Immigrants,
Monica Boyd, Metropolis Language Matters Symposium, October 22, 2009, 17 pp.
This paper attempts
to find evidence for the common assumption that lack of proficiency in host country language leads to low levels of civic
participation. Using data from the 2002 Canadian Ethnic Diversity Survey, which included questions about membership and frequency
of participation in a wide variety of organizations, including ethnic associations, as well as questions about "sense
of belonging" to local, provincial, and national polities, the author finds that, with the exception of ethnic or immigrant
associations, immigrants with low levels of host language proficiency have low levels of organizational participation, although
this fact "cannot be equated with negative feelings about belonging to Canada." Interestingly, participation in
ethnic or immigrant associations, for those with low levels of proficiency, increases with length of residence in Canada.
The Effects of Citizenship on Family Income and Poverty,
Briefing Paper, Economic Policy Institute, February 24, 2010, 12 pp.
Contending that "the
economic benefits of citizenship have been underexplored in our national discussion around immigration," this paper attempts
to quantify the income gains associated with citizenship acquisition. Noting that adult citizen immigrants in 2007 had a median
family income of $57,823, 33.2% higher than the $38,600 median income of non-citizen adult immigrants, and that the 20% poverty
rate of the latter was more than double the 9% rate of the former, the author proceeds to control for other demographic factors,
such as levels of education and age, that may account for these differences. In the end, she finds a significant correlation,
lending support for "policy initiatives that create a path to citizenship, as such a path can be a key factor in reducing
poverty and opening the door to economic stability for a broad swath of immigrant families."Community-Based Organizations and Immigrant Integration in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan
The Urban Institute, November, 2009, 51 pp.
This study examines the work of 533 immigrant-serving
organizations in the Washington, D.C., area, classifying them by size, finances, location, ethnic communities served, religious
affiliation, and types of programs. The researchers analyze data from federal financial disclosure forms and draw on interviews
with 40 organizational leaders. Of particular interest is the role played by these organizations in promoting immigrant integration. The
appeal of these groups appears to rest on their ability to provide a "safe environment" and to employ a "holistic
approach" to service delivery. As Asian and African community organizations are less well-developed than Hispanic ones,
the authors discuss a number of factors impeding the development of non-Hispanic organizations. The authors also emphasize
the role of local government in stimulating the growth of immigrant-serving organizations, noting a concentration of organizations
in the District and inner suburbs, where "immigrant-friendly" officials have steered resources to these organizations,
but a scarcity of groups in the outer suburbs where the immigrant population has been soaring in recent years, but where no
such commitment from local government has been evident.
California Counts! A Funders' Guide to the 2010 Census,
California Immigrant Integration Initiative, Grantmakers Concerned with
Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), 2009, 23 pp.
GCIR argues for strategic philanthropic investment to maximize
the participation of immigrants and other "hard-to-count" (HTC) populations in the 2010 decennial census. The authors
estimate that for each uncounted resident, the State of California will lose ca.$11,400 over the next ten years. A 10% undercount
will result in a 10-year loss for California of $42.4 billion. Although this guide was produced specifically for California
funders, the authors believe that the principles and strategies outlined in the guide may prove useful and relevant to grantmakers
in other states and regions.
Women Immigrants: Stewards of the 21st Century Family,
New America Media, February 2009, 32 pp.
that the story of migration is often depicted as "a masculine epic...(and) through the Horatio Alger lens of self-discovery
and reinvention," the authors of this report call attention to the special role of women in the migration process. Women
seem less interested in individual economic success, and more in holding the family together and making a better life for
their children. Based on 1,002 telephone interviews, conducted in August and September of 2008, with a representative sample
of the adult female population in the United States, the report also finds that women "are changing the meaning of migration
from economic to civic." Women appear to be the "catalysts for their families becoming citizens of the United States."
Other survey questions probe changes in family roles and responsibilities, the prevalence of two-parent families, and experiences
with discrimination. The report also finds a "substantial" number of women working below their level of education
Community Treasures: Recognizing the Contributions of Older Immigrants and Refugees,
Center for Intergenerational Learning, Temple University, 2008, 62 pp.
Based on field work and focus groups conducted in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Orange County (CA), this report
finds that the American concept of "volunteering" is generally unfamiliar to older immigrants and refugees, but
that the nature of their community involvement is rich and extensive, although strongly influenced by cultural background.
The report emphasizes the critical role of "community connectors" in tapping into this reservoir of talent and leadership
and contains case studies of five organizations that have been particularly effective in working with elders.
Immigrant Civic Participation: A Challenge for New Jersey and the Nation,
Program on Immigration and Democracy, Eagleton
Institute of Politics, Rutgers University, October 20, 2008, 20 pp.
provides a summary and detailed minutes of a half-day conference that brought together researchers, community activists, and
public officials to discuss research findings and promising practices in the area of immigrant civic participation.The Forum
featured presentations about the following model programs: the Coro Immigrant Civic Leadership Program in New York City, the
New Americans Initiative in Illinois, the New York Civic Participation Project, and Project Voice of the American Friends
Service Committee. The purpose of the forum was to develop recommendations for presentation to the New Jersey Blue Ribbon
Panel on Immigrant Policy.
Immigration Policy Center, October,
2008, 25 pp.
Defining "new Americans" as the total of naturalized immigrants and post-1965
children of immigrants, this study emphasizes the growing importance of this segment of the registered voter population,
and in particular, their pivotal status in "battleground" states, such as Colorado, Florida, and Indiana.
At 15.1%, the percentage of new American registered voters in New Jersey in 2006 ranked fourth in the nation.Hometown Associations: An Untapped Resource for Immigrant Integration,
MPI Insight, Migration Policy Institute, July, 2008, 23
This report discusses the remarkable growth of hometown associations (HTA's) within immigrant communities
in the United States. Although often perceived by policy makers as performing overseas development functions only, HTA's also
play a useful role in promoting immigrant integration. The report suggests a number of "small, well-crafted interventions"
that policy-makers can make to harness the energy of HTA's and built strong partnerships between HTA's, local service providers,
and local governments.
The Atlantic Philanthropies, May, 2008, 16 pp.
This report argues that "funding advocacy
and advocates is the most direct route to supporting enduring social change for the poor, the disenfranchised and the most
vulnerable among us..." Prepared by a major foundation, the report reviews the components of effective advocacy
and some of the legal issues in the field. It includes examples of effective advocacy campaigns, including the effort
to achieve comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.
Noting that "the Bush
Administration has systematically made citizenship less accessible to hard working immigrants," this report examines
the consequences of the 610% increase in citizenship fees over the 10-year period ending in 2008. Since the last fee increase
in July, 2007, the number of citizenship applications dropped by 59%. The report concludes with a series of recommendations,
including pegging the application fee to the equivalent of one week's pay for a worker making the minimum wage.
Pew Hispanic Center, March 28, 2007, 21 pp.
report documents a rise in the percentage of legal foreign-born persons in the United States who have become citizens, growing
from 37% in 1990 to 52% in 2005. The report also shows that immigrants are not waiting as long as in the past to become naturalized.
However, immigrants with lower income levels are less likely to naturalize than those with higher incomes.
for Asian American Studies, University of Massachusetts (Boston), January, 2008, 27 pp.
The purpose of this
paper is to shed light on the process of organizational formation within Asian communities in the United States. Using data
from federal Form 990, author Chi-Kan Richard Hung examines over 2000 organizations within the ten largest Consolidated
Metropolitan Statistical Areas (CSMA's) in the United States, including New York/New Jersey. The paper analyzes both pan-Asian
and ethnic specific organizations but only those with annual revenue in excess of $25,000. Organizations were grouped into
four functional types. More than 50% of all organizations were established during the period from 1991 to 2000.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, January, 2007, 192 pp.
Responding to the challenge
of integrating a record number of immigrants, The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), with support from the Carnegie
Corporation of New York, interviewed hundreds of experts and community representatives from around the country to determine
the resources, activities, and partnerships that would be required to naturalize millions of eligible immigrants. This report
summarizes their findings and recommendations.New Voices at the Civic Table: How Six Human Service Organizations are Supporting the Civic Engagement
of Community Members,
Alliance for Children and Families, January, 2007, 33 pp.
This report discusses
six pilot projects undertaken in 2006 to demonstrate how human service organizations can make civic engagement "intrinsic
to their mission." The author finds fault with the old "self-help" model, because "self-sufficiency
requires people to develp the skills to represent their individual and
shared interests." Although only one
of the six projects focuses on immigrants, the report is useful in providing a framework for the analysis and evaluation
of civic engagement projects.Bridging Divides: The Role of Ethnic Community-Based Organizations in Refugee Integration,
Migration Policy Institute and International Rescue Committee, 2007, 72 pp.
by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, this study assesses the role of ethnic community-based organizations (ECBO's),
sometimes called refugee mutual assistance associations, in facilitating refugee resettlement and integration. The authors
conducted an in-depth examination of seven prototypical organizations around the country, interviewing staff members and clients,
analyzing organizational strengths and weaknesses, and providing recommendations to ECBO's, state and local governments, and
the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Immigrant Citizenship in the United States and Canada: Explaining the Difference,
Canadian American Research Studies, Fall, 2006, 10 pp.
In this article, Sociologist Irene Bloemraad attempts
to explain why immigrants in Canada naturalize at higher rates than immigrants in the United States. Key factors are Canada's
policy of multiculturalism and its commitment of resources to support the naturalization process.
Immigrant-Led Organizers in Their Own Voices: Local Realities and Shared Visions, Catholic Legal Immigration
Network, Inc (CLINIC), May, 2006, 33 pp.
Over the course of three year (2001-2004), with funding from the Carnegie
Corporation of New York and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, CLINIC provided grants and technical assistance to
17 community-based organizations to examine the "birth, development and maintenance of the organizing process among immigrants."
With one exception, all participating organizations were outside the Catholic agency network, including the one organization
in New Jersey to participate in the project (Wind of the Spirit). This report discusses successful immigrant leadership development
strategies, as well as the partnerships that nurtured effective organizing. The report also contains useful information on
evaluating immigrant community organizing.
Civic Inequalities: Immigrant Volunteerism and Community Organizations
in California, Public Policy Institute of California, 2006, 165 pp.
As immigrants and their children constitute a
growing proportion of the population, their level of civic participation will have important consequences for the future of
American democracy. Through use of census data, ten focus groups and case studies in two cities, the authors of this
report survey the landscape of participation in the State of California from the "bottom up" and analyze resource
disparities between ethnic and mainstream organizations. The report recommends various strategies to engage immigrants in
American civic and political life. http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_706KRR.pdf
Crossing Borders, Sharing Journeys: Effective Capacity building with Immigrant and Refugee Groups, Fieldstone
Alliance, 2006, 88 pp.
Funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, this report distills the best thinking
and practices of 11 capacity building organizations in the United States and Canada that came together as a learning and research
community from 2004 to 2006. The report also summarizes the work of each organization in stimulating the development
or building the capacity of immigrant and refugee led organizations (IRLOs).http://www.fieldstonealliance.org/client/nexus_report.pdfIntegrating Civic Participation and Adult ESOL, New England Literacy Resource Center/World Education,
January, 2005, 14 pp.
This article outlines an instructional approach that introduces adult English
language learners to "democracy in action." Since the federally-funded English Literacy/Civics program
was first established in 2000, a number of educational providers have built in a practical, "justice-oriented"
focus into their curricula. These programs include a "substantive" view of democracy along with the traditional
"procedural" view. http://www.nelrc.org/publications/cpandesol.html
Pursuing Democracy's Promise: Newcomer Civic Participation in America, Grantmakers Concerned with
Immigrants and Refugees in collaboration with Funders' Committee on Civic Participation, 2004, 77pp
by Craig McGarvey, this report argues that immigrant civic participation is both "an end in itself and a means to other
ends." Adopting a community organizing perspective, this report stresses the importance of participatory approaches to
immigrant service and advocacy. features successful case studies from around the country and provides an evaluation framework
for funders interested in supporting projects adhering to civic participation principles.http://www.discountfoundation.org/pdf/pursuing_democracys_promise.pdf
Lessons Learned about Civic Participation among Immigrants, Association for the Study and Development
of Community, September, 2002, 25 pp.
This report summarizes lessons learned from a project in the Washington,
D.C., area to understand and promote civic participation among immigrant communities. Seventeen immigrant leaders from
diverse backgrounds participated in an 8-month learning circle. The report discusses various dimensions of civic participation
and gives concrete examples of how immigrant cultures and social organization can either block or support civic participation.http://www.communityscience.com/pubs/Civic%20Participation.pdf
Aliza Becker & Heide Spruck Wrigley, Citizenship Education in Illinois: What Works?, Funded
under a grant from the Illinois Dept. of Human Services to the Adult Learning Resource Center, August, 2000. 110 pp.
report evaluates citizenship education services funded by the State of Illinois and the Fund for Immigrants and Refugees from
1995 to 2000. Surveys and interviews were done with representatives of 39 funded programs. The report describes Illinois'
investment in citizenship education as a "model for the nation," not only because of the size of the investment
but also because of the strategic decision to use ethnic CBO's to deliver those services.http://www.clese.org/Products/Citizenship%20Education%20in%20Illinois.doc
Post, December 25, 2008