New interagency strategy pushes goal of “promoting naturalization to all who are eligible.”
The Biden-Harris administration has launched an all-out effort to reach some nine million longtime US residents eligible to become Americans to apply for US citizenship.
The campaign launched by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) last week as part of an Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization was described as “a whole-of-government approach to breaking down barriers to US citizenship.”
“New citizens, strengthened with the power and responsibilities that American citizenship brings, make our Nation better,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a release noting a goal of “promoting naturalization to all who are eligible.”
“This strategy will ensure that aspiring citizens are able to pursue naturalization through a clear and coordinated process,” he added.
The interagency strategy follows President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14012 issued in early February directing a working group to review the immigration process and “develop welcoming strategies that promote integration, inclusion, and citizenship.”
The order also directed the agencies “to prioritize citizenship education and awareness through capacity building and expanded partnerships, which is at the heart of the interagency strategy.”
Besides USCIS, the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of State, Department of Labor, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture, and the Social Security Administration, are part of the interagency Naturalization Working Group.
“USCIS remains committed to empowering immigrants to pursue citizenship along with the rights and opportunities that come with it,” said USCIS Acting Director Tracy Renaud.
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“There is no greater testament to the strength of America than our willingness to encourage others to join us as US citizens as we work together to build a more perfect union,” he said
“We look forward to the work ahead in welcoming and supporting aspiring Americans and equipping them with the tools they need to be successful in their journey to citizenship, and beyond.”
Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris administration, USCIS has taken a number of steps to reduce barriers to naturalization and restore confidence in our nation’s legal immigration system, the release said.
The working group’s report was released as Biden renewed his calls for changes to the immigration system, including a pathway for Dreamers at a naturalization ceremony in the White House on Friday.
“Thank you for choosing the United States of America. Believing that America is worthy of your aspirations, worthy of your dreams, making this journey, you’ve done more than move to a new place,” Biden said to the 21 new citizens.
“All of you represent how immigration has always been essential to America. We’re constantly renewing ourselves.”
“One of the most basic acts of respect is inviting others into your home. You know, as we close our Immigration Heritage month and start our nation’s Fourth of July weekend, I think of no better way to honor each occasion than by welcoming all of you into the White House. The people’s house, I might add, designed by an Irishman,” Biden said. “In a nation shaped by the immigrant’s heart.”
The campaign will not only target lawful permanent residents, many of whom have already been in the US for years, but “will also reach out to people earlier in their immigration journeys to reach those who may one day become eligible for naturalization.”
It also encourages immigration judges housed within the Department of Justice along with their help desk staff to inform eligible people how to naturalize.
The strategy also calls on USCIS to expand the number of languages citizenship test preparation materials are offered in.
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