On September 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced this year’s grantees for its immigrant integration initiative. The agency is awarding nearly $10 million to 40 organizations in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Grants are awarded to organization that will provide citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to eligible Legal Permanent Residents. More than 160 organizations applied for the USCIS grants.
This year’s awardees are an interesting mix of organizations: community organizations, such as Asian Services in Action (Akron, Ohio); national and local faith-based immigration service organizations; educational institutions, such as Baltimore City Community College; literacy organizations, such as the Nashville Adult Literacy Council; a municipality (Littleton, Colorado); and a public library (Hartford, Connecticut).
This is the sixth year of the grant program and, in total, $43 million has been awarded in 222 grants. USCIS estimates that the grant program has helped 93,000 permanent residents prepare for citizenship.
While the Obama Administration has been supportive of the government’s efforts to promote U.S. citizenship, congressional support for the integration grants program has been mixed. This year, $2.5 million of the $10 million USCIS is spending on the citizenship grants is coming from a congressional appropriation. The remainder, $7.5 million, is coming from an account funded by the fees immigrants pay for naturalization and other immigration services. That account must fund the adjudications of all immigration-related applications, including the applications of individuals who are exempt from paying fees, such as refugees and certain very poor people.
The long-term sustainability of the citizenship grant program will depend on a congressional decision that it is important for the government to promote American citizenship. In the meantime, we can celebrate the awarding of another round of grants to our hard-working colleagues around the country. Congratulations!