Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
Comptroller Stringer also sent a letter to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to jumpstart a conversation around launching a new City-run fund aimed at supporting citizenship.
By Forum Staff
City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Friday called for the creation of a public-private New York City Citizenship Fund to help tens of thousands of legal immigrants cover the ever-rising costs of the federal application to become a U.S. citizen.
Stringer indicated that he has decided to present the idea of the fund now because President Donald Trump is “ratcheting up its attacks on immigrant communities, including more frequent raids.”
“No family should have to choose between applying for citizenship and putting food on the table,” Stringer added. “Now, more than ever, we need to embrace bold, innovative strategies to protect our immigrant communities. If we want to fight back against President Trump, this is a smart, commonsense, policy-driven strategy that all New Yorkers can help to support. Immigrants make our city run—that’s who we are and who we’ll always be. President Trump is trying to take us backwards, and we have a moral, economic, and social imperative to keep New York a place that welcomes all. The more people we help become citizens, the better off we’ll be. Immigrants are being targeted. Families are fearful. And new policies from Washington are eroding American values. This fund will help give low- and moderate-income immigrants not just a fair shot to become citizens, but also give all New Yorkers a chance to help.”
Stringer also sent a letter to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to jumpstart a conversation around launching a new City-run fund aimed at supporting citizenship. The fund would be administered by the City as a 501(c)(3), akin to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City or the Fund for Public Schools. A modest initial investment by the City into the fund could then leverage additional private, charitable funds from those interested in helping their fellow New Yorkers become citizens.
According to the comptroller, data show that the high cost of citizenship serves as a monetary barrier to naturalization:
The need is large: More than 670,000 New Yorkers – over 20 percent of the city’s immigrant population – are eligible for naturalization, but have not taken the final step to citizenship.
Costs are soaring: Including biometric fees, the fees associated with the naturalization form have increased from $60 in 1989 to $725 today, an increase of 500 percent when adjusted for inflation.
Price matters: After it was announced that the form-filing fee would be increased from $400 to $675 at the beginning of FY2008, the number of citizenship applications surged 89 percent from the year prior. After that price increase took effect, applications plummeted again by more than half.
“The NYIC is committed to ensuring that all eligible New Yorkers become US Citizens as soon as they want to. One of the most frequent reasons we are given for why New Yorkers don’t apply is financial. We commend the Comptroller for calling on the creation of a public private partnership to support New Yorkers through this critical step. The benefits of citizenship are well established and we urge the Mayor to take this recommendation seriously and to act on it in this year’s budget,” said Steven Choi, executive director, New York Immigration Coalition.