First proposed by Comptroller Stringer last summer, the NYC Citizenship Fund continues to gain momentum

(New York, NY) — Today, Comptroller Stringer released a letter to Mayor de Blasio signed by over 150 immigrant rights organizations, community groups, and advocates calling for the inclusion of the Comptroller’s proposed NYC Citizenship Fund in the FY19 City Budget. The Citizenship Fund would help eliminate financial barriers that prevent immigrants from taking that final step toward citizenship by subsidizing the cost of the citizenship application for those who need help most. First proposed in a groundbreaking report by Comptroller Stringer in May of 2017, and initially supported by 80 different advocacy groups, the Council’s FY19 Budget Response included a $3 million allocation for NYC Citizenship Fund, adding to the proposal’s momentum.

“The NYC Citizenship Fund is about investing in New York’s present – and future. If we’re going to live up to being a city of immigrants, we must give all immigrants a fair shot to take that final step toward U.S. citizenship. This is a common sense way to embrace our immigrant neighbors, enhance the promise of America, and enlarge the circle of opportunity,” said Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “At a time when immigrants across the country are under attack, we have to take smart and bold action. No family should have to choose between applying for citizenship and putting food on the table. But right now, that’s exactly what’s happening. Together with more than 150 immigrant and advocacy groups, I’m calling for the City to do the right thing, and make a down payment on progress. This idea gains more momentum every day, and we hope it will soon be a reality for immigrants across the five boroughs.”

Currently, it costs $725 to file the paperwork needed to apply for citizenship, a fee that has risen by 500 percent in the last three decades. With over half of eligible immigrant New Yorkers living on less than $51,050 for a family of three, adding the individual application fee on top of the costs of legal fees and English classes means that naturalization comes with a hefty price tag. As a result, 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.

Earlier this month, the City Council included a $3 million allocation to help as many as 16,000 immigrants, of the 670,000 immigrants in New York City who are eligible to naturalize but have not yet, due in part to exorbitant costs of application fees. This, coupled with establishing a public-private partnership as Comptroller Stringer first proposed, would support tens of thousands of New York City immigrants who already make immense contributions to the City, including billions in annual earnings, which fuel our economy. Moreover, the effects of citizenship – new voter registration, increased employment opportunities, new earnings and tax revenues, and reduced need for public benefits – would be far reaching, and help invigorate New York City’s economy and democracy.

To read the Comptroller’s letter to Mayor de Blasio including a list of signatories, click here.

To view Comptroller Stringer’s Citizenship fund proposal, click here.

To view Comptroller Stringer’s economic analysis of how immigrants power the NYC economy, click here.

To view Comptroller Stringer’s 2018 Immigration Manual, click here.