As part of the New Tulsans initiative, the City of Tulsa and YWCA Tulsa announced Tulsa received a two-year $25,000 a year America is Home grant from the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) to help remove barriers for eligible immigrant permanent residents seeking to become U.S. citizens. The grant will be matched locally in the first year by the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, the Coretz Family Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Applying for this grant was very intentional on our part as we strive to become a more welcoming city for all residents,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “We want Tulsa to be a place of opportunity where new Americans have an active role in the civic life and leadership of our city.”
Immigrant lawful permanent residents seeking U.S. citizenship face many barriers including high legal fees, finding credible legal representation and years of waiting. Currently, there are roughly 10,000 legal permanent residents in Tulsa County that are eligible for citizenship and many are unaware of the resources available in Tulsa. The America is Home initiative will provide support to navigate the naturalization process including legal services, English as a second Language (ESL) and civics-based citizenship classes.
“Many people wait years to naturalize due to misinformation about the process, limited resources or concerns they will not have the knowledge or preparation to pass the interview,” Diane Eason Contreras, Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at YWCA Tulsa said. “This partnership with the City, through the America is Home initiative, will not only expand access to information and resources, but will provide a platform to create positive messages that will empower and motivate individuals to start the process.”
According to NPNA, when immigrants seek to become U.S. residents, they have made an affirmative decision to study English, U.S. history and government, and swear allegiance to the U.S. Constitution. Naturalized citizens have higher income, generate more taxes, connect with their neighbors more easily and assume their full rights and responsibilities in this country, to proudly say America is Home.
“Increasing access to naturalization is a critical part of the New Tulsans Welcoming Plan. Naturalization offers so many economic and social benefits to individuals and to our larger Tulsa community,” Christina da Silva, Director of Community Development and Policy said. “Thanks to the America is Home initiative, the City of Tulsa will work collectively with the YWCA and other organizations to increase awareness and activate untapped community assets to leverage towards increased naturalization.”
About Cities for Citizenship (C4C) “America is Home” Initiative
NPNA is a co-founder of the Cities for Citizenship (C4C) initiative, a major national initiative aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents and encouraging cities across the country to invest in citizenship programs. C4C is a growing network of currently 42 cities and counties that is chaired by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, with coordination run from the National Partnership for New Americans and the Center for Popular Democracy.