City, Airport, and Chamber of Commerce join program to help immigrants become citizens
May 12, 2017
By: Joshua Stewart
San Diego city government, the airport, and the chamber of commerce have joined a program that helps qualified immigrant workers become American citizens, adding a seal of approval from well-known institutions.
The organizations on Friday announced a partnership with the New American Workforce, an organization that helps eligible green card holders pursue U.S. citizenship. The project, an initiative under the National Immigration Forum, is active in eight cities and includes some 250 partnerships, including about 55 in San Diego. San Diego International Airport and the city are the first local public-sector organizations to enroll.
New American Workforce provides businesses and government employers with information about how their workers can complete the naturalization process to become U.S. citizens. Then the Unitarian Universalists Refugee and Immigration Services and Education assists workers through the process, including help with studying for their citizenship exam.
“With this program we will be proud to call them our fellow Americans,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.
The chamber will connect San Diego businesses with New American Workforce, and the airport and city will provide services onsite for their employees and their families
“We all know there are a lot of benefits in that for employers,” said Jerry Sanders, the president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The collaboration is another effort to encourage eligible immigrants to seek U.S. citizenship. The Mexican consulate network, including the consulate in San Diego, is assisting Mexican nationals who live in the United States to seek U.S. citizenship if they are eligible, while also launching an education effort to tell its citizens living abroad of their rights.
Citizenship can insulate people from changing federal immigration policies, as citizens cannot be subject to travel bans and visas are no longer a necessity to enter the country.
While President Donald Trump has signed executive orders that put pressure on immigrants, including green card holders, Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said that people choose to become citizens out of their own and their family’s interest, not for protection from fast-moving changes in public policy.
“Every administration sees spikes, peaks and valleys in interest” in naturalization, Noorani said.
New American Workforce has helped about 1,000 people locally become citizens.