National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


Innovative Citizenship Initiative Launches in Los Angeles

May 14, 2013

Innovative Citizenship Initiative Launches in Los Angeles.
Employees Attend Free Citizenship Workshop at American Apparel

LOS ANGELES — Today, the National Immigration Forum joined American Apparel employees to launch The Bethlehem Project in Los Angeles. Through this innovative citizenship initiative, businesses partner with local immigrant-service organizations such as NALEO, APALC, CARECEN and Catholic Charities to offer their immigrant employees onsite services such as English classes, civics instruction and legal assistance for citizenship applications.

Across the country, it’s business that is increasingly leading the charge to help new Americans integrate. Following the launch of the Bethlehem Project in Miami in April, American Apparel becomes the first Los Angeles–area business taking a leadership role by investing in its immigrant workforce — in a city where nearly 1.6 million people are eligible for citizenship.

“In the end, the most important parties involved — our employees — left well-informed and seemingly energized to make the step toward a better life for them and their families,” said Marty Bailey, President of Manufacturing at American Apparel.

The Bethlehem Project is designed to meet the needs of employees and the businesses they work for. Hardworking immigrants gain essential skills on the worksite that will increase their earning potential and allow them to fully engage as citizens in their new homeland, and businesses will benefit from increased loyalty and better-trained workers.

“The L.A. Area Chamber applauds the efforts American Apparel is putting forth, in conjunction with the National Immigration Forum’s Bethlehem Project, to help eligible immigrant workers pursue citizenship,” said Gary Toebben, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “This is a model that should be replicated nationwide. Encouraging citizenship will improve economic prosperity for all stakeholders involved.”

“The Bethlehem Project is a unique opportunity for employers to support their workers in their journey to becoming American citizens,” added Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “From Miami to Los Angeles and beyond, we’re hearing from business leaders and employees who view this service as good for the bottom line and great for employee morale.”

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