HIAS Supports Citizenship Promotion Act

Posted on Wed, Mar 07, 2007 at 11:39 am

(Washington, D.C.)– HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, strongly supports “The Citizenship Promotion Act of 2007,” introduced today by Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.). This important legislation seeks to assist immigrants in becoming citizens, to promote citizenship opportunities and to remove barriers to naturalization. This legislation will enable immigrants to embrace American life in the fullest possible way.

“Immigrants are facing a nearly $300 naturalization fee increase proposed recently by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), delays in background checks that protract the citizenship process, not enough available English classes, and other obstacles that make it difficult to naturalize in a reasonable timeframe,” says Gideon Aronoff, president and CEO of HIAS. “We commend this legislative effort to champion the broader issue of how we can help hard-working immigrants pursue their dreams of being fully integrated in their new home country.”

“Following our Jewish community mandate to welcome the stranger, it is imperative that we do all that we can to honor our moral obligation and American traditions in helping immigrants further their goals of becoming American citizens. The Citizenship Promotion Act is significant as it aspires to help the most vulnerable new Americans and to eliminate unnecessary hardships. We are hopeful that with improvements to the current citizenship process, we can continue our history as a welcoming nation.”

HIAS also supports the authorization of funding through the annual appropriations process. USCIS’ current funding structure, which is 99 percent fee-based, is an unreasonable and untenable means for supporting quality and timely immigrant services, according to HIAS.

“We strongly believe that it is in our national interest and to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers that there be federal funding to augment USCIS’ capacity to provide essential services without adding further burdens to low income immigrant families,” says Aronoff. “We are hopeful that with the passage of this legislation, immigrants will no longer have to bear this financial burden of the agency, while gaining a real opportunity to become U.S. citizens.”