Montgomery Joins Effort to Boost Citizenship Efforts

Montgomery County and more than 60 cities and counties across the country in the bipartisan “Cities for Citizenship” effort to encourage eligible immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship.

The program comes at a time when a backlog in processing applications may be discouraging permanent residents from applying for citizenship.

There will be two workshops held in the county on Saturday, Sept. 15, to help eligible immigrants with their applications. At 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 17, County Executive Leggett will launch Montgomery’s “Countywide Citizenship Corners” in ceremonies at the Rockville Library.

“When legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens, our county thrives,” Leggett said in a statement. “We urge our residents to start the naturalization process and to only seek advice and citizenship application assistance from reputable service providers.”

Cities for Citizenship (C4C) is a national initiative of 67 participating cities and counties aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible permanent residents and encouraging investment in citizenship and financial empowerment programs. Montgomery County joined the initiative in 2017.

Montgomery County’s participation in the program will include:

  • Citizenship Workshop from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 15, at the CASA Rockville Welcome Center at 14645 Rothgeb Drive, Rockville. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), which is hosting workshops nationwide in recognition of Citizenship Day, will join CASA to host the Rockville workshop. CASA also will announce the launch of the Citizenship Application Scholarship to help residents with application fees.
  • Citizenship Workshop from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Catholic Charities’ office at 12247 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. AILA and Catholic Charities will host the event. Preregistration and prescreening are required. For more information, call 202-772-4352.
  • Launch of Countywide Citizenship Corners and ribbon-cutting ceremony with County Executive Leggett at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 17, at the Rockville Library at 21 Maryland Ave., Rockville.

In Montgomery County, it is estimated that there are thousands of residents who are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

“Numerous studies have shown that the incomes of immigrants rise significantly after naturalizing,” said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans.  “The earnings gap between naturalized immigrants and noncitizen immigrants exists even with differences in education, regional labor markets and language ability taken into account.”

According to a new report by Cities for Citizenship titled “America is Home: How Individuals, Families, Cities & Counties Benefit by Investing in Citizenship,” if every working person in the nation who is eligible to naturalize became a U.S. citizen, the result would be $9 billion total in added income from their current jobs. The report also found that among those who naturalized one to two years ago, incomes rose by 5 to 7 percent, representing about $2,200 in average extra earnings per person annually.

In 2017, C4C network made an impact through naturalization outreach, application assistance and financial empowerment services that were integrated with naturalization efforts. The 2017 C4C Annual Partner Survey showed:

  • More than 712,720 lawful permanent residents were reached through naturalization outreach and communication campaigns.
  • More than 11,450 lawful permanent residents were assisted with their citizenship application via naturalization workshops.
  • More than 14,000 lawful permanent residents were assisted with financial empowerment services.

Since C4C’s inception in 2014, C4C cities and counties have been at the forefront of the effort to create scalable naturalization programs and policies.

More information about citizenship is available at the Wheaton-based Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/gilchrist or by calling 240-777-4940.

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