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NPNA Calls on Eligible Low-Income Immigrants to Apply for Citizenship as Soon as Possible

April 6, 2019

 

Washington - The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) strongly condemns the Trump administration’s decision today to move a step closer toward finalizing a federal regulation that would make it harder for hundreds of thousands of elderly, low-income, and working poor immigrants to afford citizenship. The regulation will also make it less affordable to apply for lawful permanent residence, temporary protected status, and employment authorization. In response, NPNA and partners are pledging to get one million new citizens by 2020 and to continue fighting the attacks from the administration. 
 
The proposed regulation, which could be implemented as early as the end of May, would end the practice of allowing applicants who receive a means-tested benefit, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, to use that as proof that they cannot afford the high costs of naturalization fees, and, therefore, need a fee waiver. 
 
The regulation is mean-spirited and would punish immigrants who utilize means-tested public benefits. It would limit a victory that NPNA and its members won during the previous administration, which allowed for fee waivers for citizenship and other applicants who could not afford the costly application fees. 
 
“We condemn this latest move to punish low-income and elderly immigrants,” said Eva Millona, Co-Chair of NPNA and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “If you love this country, are eligible to naturalize and of limited means, we urge you to seek help and file for citizenship as soon as possible before this Administration moves to limit your ability to qualify for the citizenship fee waiver. We have a patriotic obligation to support aspiring Americans prepared to raise their right hand to defend the Constitution, no matter their background or place of birth.”
 
In 2017, around 40 percent of citizenship applicants, over 370,000 people, filed for citizenship and requested a fee waiver. Over two-thirds of these lawful permanent residents requested the fee waiver using the proof of a means-tested benefit. This means that the proposed regulation would make it more difficult, if not impossible, for over 244,000 elderly and working poor immigrants per year to naturalize per year. In addition to other proposed regulations and practices, the backlog of nearly 740,000 citizenship applications before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and processing delays that exceed 30 months in certain offices, these roadblocks constitute a “Second Wall” of barriers to citizenship constructed by the current administration. 

In response, NPNA and its partners across the nation pledge to tear down the “Second Wall” of barriers to citizenship and mobilize its communities and advocates to mobilize one million new citizens by 2020. 

 

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