LOS ANGELES – Mayor Eric Garcetti today launched a citizenship initiative as part of his “Step Forward LA” campaign, with new tools designed to help members of L.A.’s immigrant population navigate the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.
Marking the celebration of national Citizenship Day, and as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the campaign launch is an initiative of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Earlier this year, the office launched Step Forward LA as an effort to reach 100,000 Angelenos eligible for DACA and DAPA programs. With the launch of the citizenship campaign, the initiative will focus on encouraging and engaging the more than 350,000 legal permanent resident immigrants in Los Angeles to take the necessary steps to become U.S. citizens.
A key component of the campaign is StepForward.lacity.org, where visitors can fill out a simple online questionnaire to help confirm their eligibility for citizenship. Once confirmed as eligible, they can instantly access a multilingual platform that connects them to resources and carefully guides them through the steps to citizenship. Across Los Angeles County, there are an estimated 750,000 legal permanent residents who have not yet naturalized as U.S. citizens — with nearly half of them residing in the City of Los Angeles.
“There are hundreds of thousands of Angelenos who are eligible to become U.S. citizens, but for one reason or another have not initiated or completed the naturalization process,” said Mayor Garcetti. “We want to make sure that residents have a friendlier, quicker, and easier time navigating their path to citizenship. The ‘Step Forward LA’ website provides a step-by-step guide to the citizenship process, and an interactive map where users can find resources — such as library “Citizenship Corners,” ESL and civics classes, and links to local non-profit organizations — that can help our friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers get on the path to citizenship.”
There are currently “Citizenship Corners” in each of the City’s 73 library branches, where residents can access tools — sample test materials, instructional DVDs, and more — to assist them as they work through the naturalization process. The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs is partnering with the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles to raise funds for the initiative with the support of the philanthropic community. As part of the citizenship campaign, the Mayor’s Office will also co-host immigration and naturalization workshops with local non-profit organizations.
The Mayor noted “the tremendous rights and advantages of U.S. citizenship,” which include the right to vote, opportunities to earn higher incomes and secure healthcare coverage, the ability to obtain a U.S. passport, an easier time starting businesses, obtaining loans and mortgages, and accessing public benefits such as Social Security and Medicare.