FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Eric Cohen March 7, 2007 415-255-9499, ext. 264 Ecohen@ilrc.org
CONGRESS NEEDS TO PASS THE CITIZENSHIP PROMOTION ACT OF 2007
San Francisco, CA - March 7, 2007 - The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) applauds the introduction of the Citizenship Promotion Act of 2007 on Wednesday, March 7, 2007. This bill is urgently needed because it would clear away many of the roadblocks that stand in the way of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) becoming citizens and allow them to realize their dreams of becoming voters and full fledged civic participants.
"Our deepest thanks to Senators Obama (D-IL), Salazar (D-C0), and Menendez (D-NJ) and Representatives Gutierrez (D-IL), Schakowsky (D-IL), Honda (D-CA), Abercrombie (D-HI), Solis (D- CA), Pastor (D-AZ), and Grijalva (D-AZ) for their leadership on this important issue. Now Congress needs to step up to the plate and quickly pass this bill without delay so that those who are eager to become Americans see a welcome mat rather than a stop sign," said Judith Golub, Executive Director of the ILRC.
The ILRC supports the CPA because, among other provisions, it would:
- Prevent the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) from increasing the naturalization fees until Congress develops an oversight mechanism that would keep the USCIS from implementing unreasonable fee increases -- as the agency now is proposing.
- Improve the administration of the citizenship tests for English, U.S. history and government. The bill would require that the tests be administered uniformly nationwide, there be no extraordinary or unreasonable conditions placed on applicants taking the tests, and the age, education level, time in the U.S., and efforts made by citizenship applicants would be taken into account when administering the tests.
- Establish a national citizenship promotion program, the "New Americans Initiative" to conduct citizenship outreach activities and make grants to non-profit organizations to help lawful permanent residents (LPRs) become U.S. citizens, help non-profit agencies conduct English language and citizenship classes for LPRs, and carry out outreach activities to educate immigrant communities to assist people to become citizens and assist with the application process.
- Decrease the citizenship application backlog by encouraging the Attorney General to complete background checks within a reasonable period of time and without sacrificing national security.
- Ensure that low-income eligible LPRs whose communities suffer the ill effects of the digital divide would have an equal chance to apply for citizenship as do other eligible LPRs. The bill would prohibit the USCIS from implementing its present proposal of forcing applicants for citizenship to electronically file an application or access his/her customer account.
The ILRC provides significant support and resources to help LPRs become U.S. citizens. The ILRC writes practitioners guides and conducts trainings, outreach, and technical assistance for attorneys, teachers of citizenship and English as a Second Language, and others working at non-profit agencies. The ILRC also educates new citizens about the voting process and trains new citizens about how to become more informed voters and more active civic participants.
Immigrant Legal Resource Center 1663 Mission Street, Suite 602 San Francisco, California 94103 415-255-9499 www.ilrc.org