Miami-Dade County Joins National “Cities for Citizenship” Campaign
Miami-Dade County now joins almost twenty cities across the country in Cities for Citizenship, a national campaign aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents.
Today (Nov. 9), the Florida Immigrant Coalition joins Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Chairman Jean Monestime and Commissioner Levine Cava and Citi, celebrating the county’s participation in Cities for Citizenship and the launch the Office of New Americans of Miami-Dade County (ONA-MDC) to connect eligible immigrants with the resources to naturalize, as well as receive financial and legal counseling.
Cities for Citizenship is chaired by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, with support from the Center for Popular Democracy and the National Partnership for New Americans. Citi Community Development is the Founding Corporate Partner. Miami-Dade is the first County in the country to join the campaign.
“For a long time, local and national non-profits have led naturalization efforts in the country; but we understand that in order for this to be sustainable and to really ensure that eligible permanent residents have the support they need to become new Americans and fully integrate to our country, local and state governments need to be involved,” says Francesca Menes, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for the Florida Immigrant Coalition.
In Miami-Dade, the County’s work will be supported by the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), Public Libraries, Catholic Legal Services, Florida International University School of Law and Catalyst Miami, among others. Permanent residents will receive assistance in completing the N-400 citizenship application through clinics or one-on-one sessions, be screened for eligibility for the application fee waiver, and gain access to financial coaching.
“Citizenship is an economic asset for individuals, cities and our economy. Through the Office of New Americans of Miami-Dade County, access to naturalization and financial coaching resources for those who qualify will be a powerful tool for inclusive economic growth to enable residents to strengthen their financial identities at the same time as they establish new national identities,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Community Development, the Founding Corporate Partner of Cities for Citizenship.
It is estimated that only 10% of the legal permanent residents (LPRs) that are eligible for citizenship, can follow through with the process. Out of the estimated 1.17 million eligible green card holders in Florida, about 494,000 reside in Miami-Dade County, many of them Cuban and Haitian. The low rates of naturalization are usually due to lack of access to information and legal assistance, or economic and language barriers that affect mostly low-income families.
“We are grateful to Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Board of County Commissioners for supporting this initiative which could make Miami-Dade county a national leader in promoting the integration of new Americans into our economy and our communities,” adds Menes. “With Cities for Citizenship, the county can assist more than 19% or half a million county residents and strengthen our local economy.”
Recent research shows that naturalized immigrants nationally can achieve an increase in earnings of 8% to 11%. In Miami-Dade County, the average income is $23,174. If 247,000 of current eligible LPRs became citizens, the increase in earnings over 5 years is estimated to add between $2.3 billion and $3.2 billion to the local economy in Miami-Dade County. Those who gain citizenship are able to access more jobs, achieve economic mobility, and improve the livelihood of their families. However, the complexity of the process and the $680 in filing fees has been a barrier for those eligible, particularly low-income families.
Join the campaign on Twitter with #MiamiDadeC4C and #Cities4Citizenship and access resources online at CitiesforCitizenship.org.