City of Angels and New Americans: White House Holds Regional Convening in Los Angeles
On January 29, the White House Task Force on New Americans held its first regional convening in Los Angeles. The goal is straightforward: help immigrants continue to become part of the fabric of our country. When we succeed, we change their lives for the better and make our country even stronger. The recent convening kicked off a series of events around the country as part of the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign (PDF) – a Task Force effort to help communities better integrate newcomers (PDF). The campaign aims to bring together federal, state and municipal government; the private sector; academia; faith-based groups; and the media to advance integration efforts.
Here at USCIS, we know that many permanent residents want to become citizens, but might not know where to start. To help them, our Los Angeles office regularly holds free naturalization information sessions around town. They also work with other local groups to find better ways to put this important information in their hands.
Recognizing that people trust their local libraries for information, our Los Angeles office worked with the City of Los Angeles to set-up “citizenship corners” at all 73 Los Angeles Public Library branches. People can get information for free, including our materials to help permanent residents study for the naturalization process and test.
Through the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, we recently provided $750,000 to three Los Angeles-based organizations that help permanent residents prepare and apply for U.S. citizenship: Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, Catholic Charities and the Central American Resource Center. With our help, Asian Americans Advancing Justice has been able to expand its citizenship classes to three new library branches serving the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The Central American Resource Center and Catholic Charities, whose clients are primarily Latino, have also expanded their class offerings in local library branch locations.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice is also working closely with ethnic media outlets, community organizations, social service providers, and funders to expand a local public awareness effort to help people learn more about the benefits of becoming a citizen and the resources they can tap into. This current campaign – which launched in November 2015 – leverages the support of Spanish-language media and a number of community partners to inform, educate, and assist the 755,000 permanent residents estimated to be eligible to apply for naturalization in Los Angeles County.
Over the coming months, we’ll take part in more local convenings and periodically highlight local initiatives to support aspiring citizens.