(Washington, DC) – Today, at the November 2017 United States District Court Immigration and Naturalization Ceremony, Mayor Bowser announced a new partnership between DC Government and the non-profit group, National Immigration Forum, that will make citizenship services more readily available for DC Government employees, their families, and hundreds of others who live or work in Washington, DC. The partnership will help thousands of District residents go through the naturalization process and become American citizens.
“Through this first-ever partnership in the District, we are putting our DC values into action and connecting more Washingtonians to the resources and support they need to successfully complete the naturalization process,” said Mayor Bowser. “Working together as leaders, neighbors, and friends, we will remove barriers faced by immigrants in our community and help more residents access the benefits of citizenship.”
Inspired by Bethlehem Steel, which in 1915 provided free English language instruction to its workforce, the NIF now facilitates citizenship training and other assistance through more than 250 businesses in eight cities. In addition to offering these services to DC Government employees and their family members, the Bowser Administration will also convene business leaders over the coming months to encourage them to offer their employees the same opportunity.
“By facilitating opportunities for immigrant employees, Mayor Bowser and the City of Washington, DC, are ensuring that new Americans have the opportunities, skills and status they need to reach their full potential,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “We’re grateful and proud to add Washington, DC as a New American Workforce partner.”
New American Workforce Partnership supports the Bowser Administration’s efforts to assist immigrants living in Washington, DC. In January 2017, the Mayor launched the Immigrant Justice Legal Services (IJLS) grant program, providing $500,000 to community-based organizations, private organizations, associations, and law firms that do legal work for immigrants in the District. Later in the year, the Mayor announced another $500,000 investment in the IJLS grant program. In under a year, the IJLS program has become a national model for providing legal services that relate to immigrant justice. The program has a broad focus and has helped torture survivors, DACA recipients, unaccompanied minors, survivors of domestic violence, and others who want a chance to become citizens and pursue the American Dream.
When partnering with NIF, businesses offer assistance onsite during employee breaks or before/after work hours. The supports include:
- Information Workshops – experienced professionals provide an introduction to the citizenship process, including eligibility requirements and the benefits of citizenship.
- Application Workshops – employees receive one-on-one assistance to further determine eligibility and complete the application.
- English Language and Civics Instruction – to pass the naturalization test, immigrants must possess a basic knowledge of US history and proficiency in English. Group classes are provided as an optional follow up.
By both engaging private businesses and DC Government employees and family members, the goal is that within one year, the partnership will help 2,000 District residents apply for naturalization or complete the process to become a citizen.