Suffolk County, NY – (September 22, 2016) – Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced at today’s Welcoming Week 2016 celebration that Suffolk County has signed on to participate in Cities for Citizenship, a national initiative aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents by enabling cities and counties to expand naturalization and financial capability programs.
Suffolk County joins 25 other cities and counties, including Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Chattanooga, TN; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Jersey City, NJ; Los Angeles, CA; Madison, WI; Miami-Dade County, FL; Milwaukee, WI; Nashville, TN; New Haven, CT; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Reading, PA; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; and Washington DC. The initiative is supported by National Partnership for New Americans and Center for Popular Democracy. Citi Community Development is the founding corporate partner.
“Suffolk County is proud to be one of the many municipalities across the country that is partnering with Cities for Citizenship to help thousands of immigrants who are on track to becoming American citizens,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Our goal is to not only assist those who are on the right path to pursuing the American Dream, but to also close the naturalization gap and maintain equal rights for all. Suffolk County is home to 1.5 million residents, and providing key services to perspective citizens, such as financial counseling and education programs, will be instrumental to the further development and enhancement of our local economy. I would like to thank my fellow colleagues in governments across the country, Citi Community Development and Cities for Citizenship for their continuous leadership on this issue.”
Nationally, there are 8.8 million Legal Permanent Residents, or green card holders, eligible for citizenship. Research by the Urban Institute and supported by NYC’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Citi Community Development shows that the U.S. is missing out on billions of dollars in tax revenues and potential earnings due to this naturalization gap.
Since Cities for Citizenship launched nationwide:
• 10,000+ individuals have pursued citizenship/initiated the citizenship process
• 6,000+ individuals received legal assistance/referrals
• 5,000+ individuals have attended financial empowerment classes
• 900+ individuals have participated in 1-1 financial coaching sessions
• 12,000+ have received information on the fee waiver, financial counseling, and/or citizenship microloan assistance
“Through citizenship, doors open to better-paying jobs, access to savings and homeownership,” said Eileen Auld, New York Tri-State Market Director, Citi Community Development. “Citi is proud to support Cities for Citizenship to connect eligible immigrants with the financial, legal and educational support to build a more stable financial future. We celebrate Suffolk County joining the effort.”
Along with the Cities for Citizenship announcement at the Welcoming Week 2016 celebration, County Executive Bellone also honored 11 local organizations that have been strong advocates for ensuring diversity in the County through the services they offer to immigrants. These organizations include:
• The Amos Project of Long Island Jobs with Justice-a community outreach campaign aiming to create a “coalition of conscience” among faith, labor, and community organizations. The main goal is to provide education and advocacy concerning corporate greed and economic systems and structures that lead to unfair workers’ rights.
• Haitian Americans United for Change-helps newly emigrated Haitians transition to life in the U.S. by providing volunteer mentors who guide and assist the new immigrants in their adjustment by providing them with the opportunity to practice the English language in a secure environment.
• Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI- prides itself in helping the at-risk and vulnerable communities, including the immigrants who must flee here from their countries. Many are children who have arrived here without parents or other family members and need aid and assistance. HWCLI coordinates and leverages resources to aid children and their families with comprehensive legal, mental health, and other critical health and human services.
• Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC)-a coalition of individuals and organizations based on Long Island who are concerned about the unequal access to programs such as healthcare, law enforcement, social services, and justice through the courts, by persons with limited English proficiency. We highlight the systemic issues that create barriers to meaningful access, advocate for the removal of these barriers, and educate of the advantages of systemic change.
• India Association of Long Island-promotes, shares, and celebrates the culture of India through cultural programs and educational activities that foster a better understanding of the diversity and rich heritage of the Indian subcontinent to Indians and the larger community of Long Island.
• Mujeres Latinas at the Middle Country Library-focuses on connecting Latin women with library services in their community. Bimonthly meetings are mostly in Spanish and open to children, family and friends, as well as out-of-district patrons.
• Polonia of Long Island-1200 emigres providing educational, cultural and financial assistance promoting the preservation of their heritage and higher educational values.
• Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA)-has provided a community in which men and women of Italian descent have preserved and nurtured their Italian heritage. It continues to thrive, meeting the initial objectives of its founders through a wide variety of community, cultural, social, charitable, educational, patriotic, and civic activities.
• Turkish Cultural Center (TCC)-a charitable, cultural, and educational non-profit organization dedicated to promoting cultural harmony in this diverse country. Building, increasing, and fostering strong and lasting friendships between the multitude of different cultures within the U.S. and citizens of Turkish descent creating an opening dialogue between the two groups.
• The Wellbrook Foundation-encourages the interest of Asian Americans in active participation of community services and civic affairs. It promotes mutual understanding, social harmony, and peace through cultural exchange, dissemination of knowledge, and education, and promotes economic and business development for Asian Americans.