Profiling the Eligible to Naturalize,
Center for the Study of Immigrant
Integration & Center for American Progress, November 24, 2014, 10 pp.
Authors: Manuel Pastor, Patrick Oakford &
This study suggests that naturalization rates would improve substantially if
fee waivers, currently available to those earning below 150 percent of the poverty level, were also available to those earning
between 150 percent and 250 percent of the poverty line. Of the estimated 8.7 million legal permanent residents
eligible to naturalize, 1.9 million fall within this income band. The current fee ($595 plus $85 biometric fee) poses a barrier
to those of limited means, especially Mexicans who tend to fall on the lower end of the income scale. While Mexican immigrants
comprise 29 percent of all adults eligible to naturalize, they comprise 40 percent of all adults eligible to naturalize in
the band below 150 percent of the poverty level, 37 percent within the 150 percent to 250 percent poverty band, and only 18
percent in the higher income group. The researchers also examine the income composition of those who have naturalized in recent
years and find a “distinct bias toward higher income groups.” They also suggest that the kind of data analysis
that they have undertaken in this study would be extremely useful in developing strategies to improve naturalization rates
in the United States, with special attention to the plight of the working poor.
Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement,
MIT Press, 2014, 295 pp.
Author: Sasha Costanza-Chock
This study examines the role of "media
ecology" in the formation, organization, and development of the immigrant rights movement in the United States. In the
foreword, Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells describes the work as "social research at its best." He describes
the author as an "engaged academic" with a strong commitment to the cause of immigrant rights who uses his "investigative
imagination and theoretical capacity" to produce "an accurate assessment of the ways and means of the new
world in the making." Indeed, at the time of the immigrant rights marches of 2006, the author volunteered his time and
talent to strengthen the media capacity of the movement in southern California. In reviewing the achievements and limitations
of the immigrant rights movement since that time, the author argues that it is "both dangerous and wrong"
to suggest that "vertically structured movements" are the most effective organizing paradigm. Instead, he cites
numerous examples of how "horizontalism" has produced major gains and victories. He takes to task those funders
who are "pushing movement organizations away from horizontalist organizational logics and away from the norms of network
culture." He also cautions, that "digital media technologies cannot somehow be sprinkled on social movements to
produce new, improved mobilizations." Each chapter in the book explores a particular episode in the immigrant rights
movement from a media perspective. These include: the 2006 protests against the Sensenbrenner bill (H.R. 4437) culminating
in the historic "Day Without Immigrants" on May 1, 2006; the "MacArthur Park Melee" in 2007 when police
attacked demonstrators in L.A.; the DREAMer movement; and the Silicon Valley FWD.US organization.
The Changing Face of the Nation: How Hispanic and Asian Voters Could Reshape
the Electorate in Key States,
Partnership for a New American Economy, October, 2014, 16 pp.
The authors of
this study ask: who will replace the baby boomers in the American voting booth? As the older, largely white generation passes
on, a major demographic shift will take place as 25.6 million Asian and Hispanic voters succeed them and in the process reshape
future U.S. presidential elections. There are more than 13.2 million unregistered Hispanic and Asian voters in the United
States, with strong concentrations in key presidential election states like Texas and Florida. By 2020, the study finds, almost
4.2 million additional Hispanic and Asian residents will naturalize and become eligible to vote and nearly 8.2 million Hispanic
and Asian citizens will turn 18 years old. If Hispanic and Asian voting patterns from the 2012 presidential election continue
into future elections, the study concludes, many Republican states will become competitive or begin to lean Democratic. The
study points out that unless the Republican Party alters its position on immigration reform, this demographic shift in favor
of the Hispanic and Asian vote could have a detrimental impact on the Party's chances of winning national elections in the
future. (Robert S. Smith for The ILC Public Education Institute)
Reconceiving Citizenship: Noncitizen Voting in New York City Municipal
Elections as a Case Study in Immigrant Integration and Local Governance,
Journal of Migration and Human Security, 223 (August, 2014), 64 pp.
Author: Lauren Gilbert
Despite making initial headway in the New York City Council, a measure to extend the franchise in local elections to qualified
non-citizens was blocked in 2013 by the administration of former Mayor Bloomberg out of concern for the measure's constitutionality
and feasibility. The introduction of the New York is Home Act
in the New York State Legislature in 2014, which would
grant state citizenship, including the right to vote in state and local elections, to noncitizens who have lived in New York
and paid taxes for at least three years, as well as the decision of the new Mayor of New York Bill De Blasio to make municipal
ID cards available to undocumented immigrants, suggests that the question of municipal voting may soon be back on the agenda
of the New York City Council. Although some have argued that such a measure would constitute a restoration
voting rights in local elections, common during the first century and a half of the nation's history, others, including the
author of this article, take a more cautious approach. She begins by providing a review of recent experiments with noncitizen
suffrage in other parts of the United States, with special attention to Tacoma Park (MD) and Portland (MA). While agreeing
that "powerful reasons exist for allowing New York City to extend the suffrage to noncitizens in municipal elections,"
the author notes that local officials must ensure that noncitizens do not inadvertently vote in federal elections, and thereby
subject themselves to prosecution and possible deportation for violating federal law. The author also looks at the question
of whether New York City can act without first securing the permission of the New York State legislature. There is sufficient
ambiguity in state law, she points out, to suggest the need for a citywide referendum on the subject. However, such a course
of action is a risky proposition and would have to be proceeded by a "well-orchestrated YES campaign."
Citizenship: A Wise Investment for Cities,USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, The Center for Popular Democracy, and The National Partnership
for New Americans, Summer, 2014, 9 pp.
This report "represents the first stage in what will be an ongoing
research effort" by Cities for Citizenship (C4C), a collaborative project co-chaired by the mayors of Chicago, Los Angeles,
and New York, to promote the naturalization of recent immigrants. Funded by Citi Community Development, C4C will help municipal
governments start or develop citizenship programs in other communities. This report quantifies the economic gains to
be realized by cities and regions by using Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York as test cases. Controlling for industry and
occupation and assuming that half the eligible population will naturalize over a period of 5 to 10 years, the researchers
report that the increased earnings of naturalized immigrants (estimated to be between 8 and 11 percent nationally) "will
lead to additional economic activity - or GDP - over ten years of between $2.2 and $4.8 billion in the city of New York, $1.6
and $2.8 billion in Los Angeles, and between $1.2 and $1.8 billion in Chicago." The report concludes with some recommendations
for cities interested in using naturalization as an economic development and community-building strategy.
Citizenship Matters: How Children of Immigrants Will Sway the Future of Politics,
Center for American Progress & Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, July, 2014, 25 pp.
Manuel Pastor, Justin Scoggins, Vanessa Carter & Jared Sanchez
The authors of this study assess the long-term
political consequences of a failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. They argue that those who fear that a path to
citizenship for the undocumented will be a path to defeat for the Republican Party are misguided in their thinking.
The path to citizenship in the Senate bill would take at least 13 years, allowing both parties time to win over voters-to-be.
Polling also indicates that close to 20 percent of undocumented immigrants identify with or lean toward the Republican Party,
while 45 percent would be open to voting Republican if the Party played a leadership role in passing immigration reform. But
the most compelling political argument for action, according to the authors, is that millions of new citizens, both foreign-born
and native-born, are linked to the undocumented both through membership in "mixed status" families and through a
shared commitment to immigration reform. Both the citizen children of undocumented immigrants and the citizen children of
all immigrants will form a pool of 15.4 million new voters by 2032. The number would rise to 19.3 million if the children
of all Hispanic and Asian people are counted. The authors conclude that the failure to pass immigration reform "is likely
to entrench a second generation against political actors perceived as holding up immigration reform progress."
Protecting Minority Voters: Our Work is Not Done,
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Commission on Voting Rights (NCVR), 2014, 255 pp.
Writer: Tova Wang
After conducting 25 regional or state-based hearings to gauge the extent of voting rights
violations in states and communities, the NCVR compiled this report to share its findings. The report concludes that "voting
discrimination is a frequent and ongoing problem..." NCVR faults the Supreme Court for finding the Section 5 preclearance
provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 to be unconstitutional and an "unnecessary vestige of a bygone era."
Section 5 provided for federal screening of all new voting practices in nine states and in parts of six others, where there
had been a history of discrimination. According to the report, "Section 5 in fact was targeting the states with
the worst records of recent, repeated voting discrimination..." The report provides background information on the VRA,
along with an analysis of how the VRA has been used to block voting discrimination from 1995 to the present. There were:
171 successful Section 2 lawsuits, 113 Section 5 preclearance denials, and 48 successful lawsuits raising language assistance
claims. The report also documents the adverse consequences for minority communities of state laws and practices that restrict
or interfere with access to the ballot.
The Latino Electorate by Immigrant Generation: The Rising Influence of Children
Center for American Progress, June 12, 2014, 9 pp.
Author: Patrick Oakford
The 2012 U.S. presidential
election was a turning point in the perception of the power of the Latino vote, according to author Patrick Oakford, who noted
that Latinos were credited with helping President Barack Obama's reelection. In his paper "The Latino Electorate by Immigrant
Generation: The Rising Influence of Children of Immigrants," Oakford analyzes the Latino electorate to gauge its impact
on future elections. Oakford breaks down the Latino electorate into three groups: first-generation immigrants (foreign-born),
second-generation immigrants (children of foreign-born immigrants), and third-generation immigrants (children of U.S.-born
parents). He finds that immigrants and their children are a growing percentage of the Latino electorate increasing from 49
percent in 1996 to 55 percent in 2012. Second-generation immigrants also are a growing share of the Latino electorate: between
the last and the next elections, around 3.3 million Latino citizens will turn 18. Crucially, according to the findings, immigrants
and their children are more likely to vote than third-generation immigrants. Consequently, as their share of the electorate
increases, Latino voter turn-out is likely to increase. Oakford suggests that this trend has important implications for both
the President and the House of Representatives, providing some incentive to deal with policy matters that affect Latinos such
as immigration reform. (Denzil Mohammed, The Immigrant Learning Center, Public Education Institute)
Latinos and the VRA: A Modern Fix for Modern-Day Discrimination,
MALDEF, NALEO, and NHLA, June, 2014, 17 pp.
Authors: Andrea Senteno & Erin Hustings
In June of 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder
struck down the Section 4(b)
coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a five-to-four margin. Almost one-third of all eligible Latino voters
in the U.S. live in the states and localities subject to the pre-Shelby coverage formula. Asserting that "voting discrimination
against Latinos is obvious, egregious, and far-reaching," the three organizations producing this report urge Congress
to pass the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. To demonstrate the extent to which Latino voters have been subject
to voting rights discrimination both before and after the Shelby
decision, the report highlights examples of discriminatory
laws and practices that were either outlawed before Shelby
or allowed to stand post-Shelby.
of such laws and practices covers the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New York, and Texas.
The New Immigration Contestation: Social Movements and Local Immigration Policy
Making in the United States, 2000-2011,
American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 119, No. 4 (January 2014), 51 pp.
Authors: Justin Peter Steil &
Ion Bogdan Vasi
Throughout the past century, the policy debate on immigration has primarily played out on the
federal level. However, during the first decade of the 21st
century, the debate has also seeped down to the local
and state level, with some jurisdictions passing laws designed to drive out undocumented immigrants and other jurisdictions
enacting policies to promote the integration of immigrants regardless of their immigration status. The authors of this essay
refer to this increase in local immigration policy-making as the "new immigration contestation" and they seek to
explain the "mechanisms" and "structural forces" that drive some communities to pursue "proactive"
(or pro-immigrant) policies, whereas others take "reactive" (or anti-immigrant) paths. Rather than focusing on political
partisanship or local demographic change as the main driving forces, the authors examine the role that local social movements
have played in the spread of these policies. Their research covers 96 cities that passed anti-immigrant policies and 97 cities
that adopted pro-immigrant policies between 2000 and 2011, including in-depth case studies of the cities of Hazleton (PA)
and Fremont (NE) - anti-immigrant --- and Easton (PA) and Grand Island (NE) - pro-immigrant. The researchers conclude that
"pro-immigrant local associations matter for the passage of local pro-immigrant ordinances, but anti-immigrant local
associations are not significant for the passage of anti-immigrant policies...What is
significant for the passage
of anti-immigrant policies are local social and demographic changes that local residents or political leaders have framed
as threats in ways that mirror the framing by national anti-immigrant organizations."
Performative Citizenship in the Civil Rights and Immigrant Rights Movements,
UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper, March 16, 2014, 24 pp.
Author: Kathryn Abrams
paper, Kathryn Abrams observes "that the discourse, the strategies, and the specific tactical repertoires of the civil
rights movement have become symbols and templates for the immigrant justice movement..." However, there are also "performative
dimensions" to both movements that may explain their power and effectiveness. One such dimension is "self-narration,
" which rejects the stereotypical notion of how a marginalized or exploited person should interact with the rest of society.
As undocumented young people, for example, "come out," they "reject the fear, and the resulting posture
of hiding, that governmental officials have sought to impose on them through anti-immigrant legislation and enforcement efforts."
Another performative dimension is "multifaceted civic engagement," where people model the rights which they seek
(and in the case of undocumented immigrants without any legal claim to assert those rights). The "Know Your Rights"
sessions sponsored by the ACLU in conjunction with immigrant rights organizations are one example of this approach. When undocumented
young people, i.e. the DREAMers, knocked on doors in Arizona trying to convince Latino citizens to go to the polls to
defeat anti-immigrant state legislators, they were engaged in the democratic process, at the same time that they were trying
to get more Latino citizens to the polls. The author concludes that both the civil rights movement and the immigrant rights
movement relied on the "alchemy" of claiming rights which may be emergent or precarious as a means of securing their
Should Citizenship be for Sale?
European University Institute, January, 2014, 38 pp.
Editors: Ayelet Shachar & Rainer Baubock
by the government of Malta to offer Maltese and European citizenship to foreigners in exchange for an investment of 1,150,000
Euros has sparked considerable controversy. In this report, 12 scholars present their views on the subject. They do
so by responding to an introductory essay by Ayelet Shachar of the University of Toronto law School, who finds these types
of "cash for citizenship" programs to be "deeply problematic and objectionable." In another
essay in the collection, Rainer Bauböck, Co-Director of the European University Institute, reviews the major arguments
on both sides of the debate. He comments "that there is a broader trend toward relinking citizenship acquisition
to social class, which manifests itself, on the one hand, in offering citizenship to the rich and, on the other hand, in income
and knowledge tests for ordinary naturalizations of foreign residents."
Stepping Up: The Impact of the Newest Immigrant, Asian, and Latino Voters,
Immigration Policy Center, September, 2013, 11 pp
Author: Rob Paral
both Democratic and Republican congressional districts, demographics shifts are taking place that will significantly alter
the composition of the electorates. Author Rob Parel points out that young Asian and Latino teenagers coming of age,
as well as newly naturalized immigrants, will have a major impact on the profile of newly eligible voters in upcoming elections.
Using data from the U.S. Census and the Department of Homeland Security, the paper finds that about 1.4 million newly naturalized
citizens and 1.8 million first-time Asian and Latino voters will participate in each two-year election cycle, and together
these groups will constitute 34 percent of all new eligible voters in the 2014 elections alone. Congressional districts across
the country but particularly in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and New Mexico will see substantial
increases in the Asian and Latino composition of new voters. As a result, Paral suggests that representatives must be
cognizant of how their decisions today and in the future on matters such as comprehensive immigration reform will impact not
only the current electorate but also the electorate in the 2014 and future elections. (Denzil Mohammed)
Why don't they naturalize? Voices from the Dominican Community,
Latino Studies (2013), 11, 3, 27 pp.
Authors: Alan Hyde, Ray A. Mateo, & Bridgit Cusato-Rosa
interviews with 34 Dominican "non-naturalizers" in New York and New Jersey, this study seeks to understand why
Dominican immigrants have historically naturalized at a low rate. It begins by reviewing the four general theories
that have been proposed to explain naturalization rates: first, demographic factors, e.g. age, education levels; second, political
administrative theories, i.e., the ease or complexity of naturalization procedures; third, economic incentive theories, i.e.
immigrants weighing the costs and benefits of citizenship; and fourth, psychological processes. Each of these theories
has some explanatory value, but the authors are most interested in analyzing the psychological factors at work. They reject
the view that "Latin Americans don't naturalize because they think they may not stay." Most Dominicans do not expect
to return permanently to their country, and even the "sojourners" have an incentive to naturalize so that they can
come and go freely without jeopardizing their permanent resident status. However, there may be problems with the very concept
of citizenship. The authors quote Smith and Bakker (2008): "Neither popular nor academic thought in this country has
come to terms with the difference between being a land of immigrants and being one node in a postnational network of diasporas."
Too many immigrants, the authors contend, experience naturalization as "wrenching assaults on their identity."
State Access to Federal Immigration Data Stirs New Controversy in Debate over
Migration Policy Institute, September 12, 2013, 7 pp.
Authors: Musaffar Chishti & Faye Hipsman
and more states are seeking to use the electronic, fee-based program called SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements)
to purge their voter lists of non-citizens. However, this essay points out several problems with the use of SAVE that undermine
its usefulness. Firstly, SAVE was not intended to check voter eligibility; rather it was designed to enable government agencies
to determine a person's eligibility for public benefits and licenses. The SAVE program is also unreliable. It checks a person's
status by finding his or her Alien Registration Number or naturalization/citizenship number but U.S.-born citizens are not
included in the SAVE database. Data entry errors and outdated information also make SAVE unreliable; a person's citizenship
status may not be immediately updated to the SAVE system. Furthermore, the authors note that state officials have not made
a solid case that combating voter fraud is a compelling public goal. Of the 11.5 eligible voters in Florida, for instance,
207 were found to be non-citizens. Nonetheless, the article points out that more than a dozen more states are seeking to access
SAVE, a trend that likely will continue. (Denzil Mohammed
Lining Up: Ensuring Equal Access to the Right to Vote,
Advancement Project & the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 2013, 58
Author: Gilda R. Daniels
Produced by two organizations dedicated to preserving the right to vote for
all Americans and written by Gilda R. Daniels, an Associate Professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, this report
chronicles the 2011-2012 "war on voting" against "people of color" and the efforts of the civil rights
community, the courts, and voters themselves to push back against this "unprecedented spate of suppressive voting laws."
During this period, at least 180 restrictive voting bills were introduced in 41 states. By October 2012, 16 new laws
and two executive actions that were considered restrictive had been adopted in 13 states. The Co-Director of the Advancement
Project described these efforts as the "largest legislative effort to rollback voting rights since the post-reconstruction
era." Among the practices under examination in the report are: restrictive voter ID laws, reductions in early voting,
voter purges, and proof of citizenship laws. In addition, the report discusses voter challenges, voter deception and intimidation,
the impact of long lines, and the use of provisional ballots. Rather than encouraging more eligible Americans to vote,
these laws and practices, ostensibly for the purpose of rooting out "unfounded claims of voter fraud," act to suppress
voting among the 51 million potential voters who are not registered. The report argues that it is imperative to "build
a next-generation voting rights movement" and concludes with a series of recommendations, including: updating the
Voting Rights Act; repeal of restrictive voter ID laws; creating a secure, online voter registration system; and creating
early voting opportunities (including weekends and evenings) in every state.
Report on the Evaluation of the Use of CitizenshipWorks in the New Americans Campaign,
Pro Bono Net & The Immigration Advocates Network, 2013, 39 pp.
Authors: Ken Smith, Kelly Thayer, & Kathy
The CitizenshipWorks (CW) website (http://www.citizenshipworks.org/
) provides access to a variety of online tools to permit permanent residents to determine their eligibility for citizenship
and prepare their applications for citizenship. Pro Bono Net and the Immigration Advocates Network, the principal developers
of the website, commissioned this evaluation from The Resource for Great Programs
to determine the benefits derived
by applicants, advocacy organizations, and legal service providers in using these online tools. Under the auspices of the
New Americans Campaign, these tools are being piloted with project partners and legal service organizations in eight cities:
Los Angeles and San Jose (CA), Houston and Dallas (TX), Detroit, Miami, New York City, and Charlotte (NC). A major conclusion
of the evaluation is that "CW has demonstrated that it can significantly increase efficiency and achieve higher success
rates over traditional group processing and individual assistance, offering the potential for dramatically increasing the
numbers of immigrants that legal services organizations can serve with existing resources of staff, volunteers, and funding."
The report also includes a section discussing major issues and lessons learned during the pilot phase of this project.
Urban Politics and the Assimilation of Immigrant Voters
William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 2012, 36 pp.
Author: Rick Su
What explains the "depressed"
or low voter turn-out among naturalized immigrants -- low not only compared to the native-born, but also compared to immigrant
groups in earlier periods of American history? According to Rick Su, most scholars focus on the legal and social characteristics
of today's immigrants. He instead looks at the political structure of America's cities and finds that there are fewer pay-offs
for immigrants in today's "fragmented" city. Indeed, voting may not necessarily be a measure of assimilation, especially
if apathy is a characteristic of voters in general. "If anything, it can be argued that immigrants are assimilating
America's newfound political apathy quite well by avoiding any political identification and staying away from the polls."
The bulk of the paper looks at immigrant interaction with local political systems during three periods of American history,
which he calls "the machine city, the reform city, and the fragmented city." In the current period, power is diffused
to independent authorities and regional entities, leaving fewer resources in the hands of urban administrations. By moving
to the suburbs (now where more than half the foreign-born live), "many immigrants have been able to find governments
with packages of policies and services that are better suited to their needs in a shorter time and with less effort than through
Overcoming Citizenship: Six Practical Steps for Overcoming the Hierarchy of Nationality
Rutgers School of Law, Research Paper Series, May 10, 2013, 20 pp.
Author: Alan Hyde
The thesis of this
paper, first delivered at a 2012 seminar in Italy, is that the concept of citizenship is antiquated and acts as a means
of denying rights to people all over the world. The author argues that, "the justification of inequality is the primary
contemporary social function of the concept of citizenship" and adds that "To a future generation, the justification
‘because he is a noncitizen' will sound...as problematic and troubling as the non-justification ‘because she is
black' or ‘because she is a Jew' or ‘because she is a woman' sound to us." The author traces the origins
of the concept to "subject-hood," the claim by absolute rulers to the fealty of all people born in their realms.
Despite the association of birthright citizenship with the 14th
amendment to the Constitution, its true origins
date back to feudal rulers. "The juridical concept of citizen/subject thus has no necessary association with political
liberty or participation." In the modern world, citizenship enables us to divide people in entirely arbitrary ways, whether
in the workplace, or in schools. "Citizenship not only divides us one from another. It divides us from ourselves. Citizenship
abstracts a legal person from a body." The author suggests a number of ways to challenge the mystique of citizenship,
including "treat(ing) ‘citizenship' as a dirty word," strengthening international human rights protections,
"disaggregating" rights from citizenship, proliferating multiple citizenships, removing unrealistic tests of citizenship
based on "policing cultural identification," and treating most distinctions between citizens and noncitizens
as "literally ‘suspect.'" Finally, the paper analyzes reasons for low rates of citizenship acquisition by
immigrants in the United States, compared to countries like Canada and Australia. Using interviews with Dominican immigrants
as a data source, the author emphasizes the importance of psychological factors. Too many immigrants perceive naturalization
"as a wrenching assault on their identities."
Run Local: The New American Electorate and the 2013 Municipal Elections
The New American Leaders Project, March 6, 2013,
Authors: Tyler Reny & Sayu Bhojwani
report argues that "elected officials from APIA, Latino, Arab American, and Caribbean American communities (co-ethnics)
are the best leaders for their communities." They bring an understanding of the experience and problems of their communities
to governance and have the power to mobilize their communities to participate in the electoral process. Moreover, local
elections are important training grounds and pipelines for leaders interested in advancing to state and federal elective office.
The report reviews a number of factors that can either inhibit or facilitate the emergence of "descriptive representation,"
including the size of electoral districts (at-large seats tend to discriminate against co-ethnic candidates), re-districting
that does not "crack" concentrations of ethnic voters, and term limits. Finally, the authors provide a list of 22
cities with large minority populations that are holding elections in 2013 and where there are "exciting possibilities
for new American candidates..."
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 Program,
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.
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 Area,
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
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.
Civic Participation: A Challenge for New Jersey and the Nation (Broken Link),
Program on Immigration and
Democracy, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University, October 20, 2008, 20 pp.
report 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.
"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,
Insight, Migration Policy Institute, July, 2008, 23 pp.
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
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 (Broken Link),
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
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.
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).Integrating 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. Pursuing Democracy's Promise: Newcomer Civic Participation in America,
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees in collaboration with Funders' Committee on Civic Participation,
Written 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.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.
Aliza Becker & Heide Spruck Wrigley, Citizenship Education in Illinois:
Funded under a grant from the Illinois Dept. of Human Services to the Adult Learning Resource Center, August, 2000.
This 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.