Congressman Jimmy Gomez Leads 49 Colleagues in Calling for $100 Million to Improve and Expedite Immigration Services
Rep. Gomez remains committed to funding immigrant-serving organizations and advocating for immigrant communities, who improve the civic, economic, and social fabric of our country.
Washington, April 6, 2023
WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) led 49 of his colleagues in a letter to the Committee on Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee to request $100 million in federal funding for the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program (CIGP) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024. This program, which is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has been critical to providing resources, support, and information to immigrants for their naturalization process.
Rep. Gomez has long advocated for increasing of funding for citizenship education and immigrant integration grants and has successfully increased funding for the program by 250% over the past two years.
“Increasing funding for the CIGP will both support immigrant-serving institutions, as well as increase the capacity for additional qualified legal service providers to assist with the naturalization application and process,” wrote Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34). “This will allow USCIS to more efficiently adjudicate applications by reducing filing errors, likely contributing to the agency-wide effort towards reducing casework backlogs and improving processing times.”
"We are pleased to see Congress support immigrant integration through its investments and expansion of the USCIS Citizenship and Integration grant program," said Angelica Salas, CHIRLA Executive Director. "This grant has supported immigrant serving organizations enabling us to offer much needed integration services to legal permanent residents in the state of California. CHIRLA appreciates Congressman Gomez for his unwavering commitment to immigrant communities and his hard work in obtaining funding for citizenship grants. We urge Congress to continue their investing on immigrant success in FY 24."
“We thank Congressman Gomez for championing this important investment in assisting eligible permanent residents apply for U.S. citizenship,” said Laura Vazquez, UnidosUS Associate Director of Immigrant Integration. “Recipients of these funds conduct important work that prepares eligible immigrants for naturalization and promotes civic integration through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics. About nine million permanent residents are eligible to become U.S. citizens, therefore the need for these grants is great and should continue to be increased.”
"When we invest in naturalization, we're investing in the future of the United States. We're investing in an inclusive society where people have the opportunity to become citizens and we are collectively reducing barriers through English classes and increasing the legal services capacity of community-based organizations," said Nicole Melaku, National Partnership for New Americans Executive Director. "This is why the National Partnership for New Americans supports increasing funding for the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, commends Congressman Gomez for leading this call, and commits to working as a network to ensure that Congress invests more deeply in citizenship and immigrant inclusion in fiscal year 2024."
Since 2017, the Office of Congressman Gomez has helped over 1,000 constituents with immigration cases, including applications for lawful permanent resident status (also known as a Green Card), employment authorization, and visas and has hosted citizenship workshops across California’s 34th Congressional District.
The CIGP has awarded more than $132 million through 579 competitive grants to immigrant-serving institutions in 39 states and the District of Columbia since the program began in 2009. Now in its fourteenth year, the program has helped more than 300,000 lawful permanent residents prepare for citizenship.
The letter can be found here and below.
March 29, 2023
The Honorable David Joyce Chairman
The Honorable Henry Cuellar Ranking Member
Dear Chairman Joyce and Ranking Member Cuellar:
Thank you for increasing the funding for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Citizenship and Integration Grant Program to $25 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. We write today to request that you continue your support for the integration of immigrants into the social, cultural, economic and civic life of the United States by further investing $100 million for the USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant Program in FY 2024.
As you know, the USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant Program (CIGP) has been part of a multifaceted effort to provide U.S. citizenship preparation resources, support, and information to immigrants and immigrant-serving institutions. Since 2009, the CIGP has awarded more than $132 million through 579 competitive grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. The program has helped more than 300,000 lawful permanent residents (LPRs) prepare for U.S. citizenship.
Unfortunately, even after important investments in citizenship preparation resources, the CIGP currently serves only a fraction of eligible immigrants and immigrant-serving institutions. Despite its life changing impact, the 300,000 LPRs reached by CIGP in its entire history represent less than one percent of the over nine million potentially-eligible LPRs (.033 percent). On an annual basis, the number of LPRs who will receive citizenship preparation services through the CIGP is even smaller, an estimated 25,000 due to FY 2021 funding. Notably, this group of eligible LPRs consists of an estimated 32% who have an income level below 150% of the federal poverty level, and an estimated three million who speak little to no English. By providing increased assistance through the Grant Program, this eligible population could have greater access to naturalization and English-language classes. Clearly, the need exists to support LPRs interested in becoming citizens, and the vehicle for meeting that need is to increase investments in CIGP.
Additionally, while USCIS reviewed and supported funding for only 66 organizations nationwide, recipient organizations served both traditional immigrant population centers and emerging immigrant population centers in only 35 states, out of 50 states and several territories. Increasing funding for the CIGP will both support immigrant-serving institutions, as well as increase the capacity for additional qualified legal service providers to assist with the naturalization application and process. This will allow USCIS to more efficiently adjudicate applications by reducing filing errors, likely contributing to the agency-wide effort towards reducing casework backlogs and improving processing times. Increasing funding will also further the goals of the Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization, established by Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans. This Order established a naturalization working group that aims to promote naturalization through education, capacity building and partnerships.
Thank you for your consideration of our request to increase FY2024 funding for the CIGP to $100 million to expand the quality and reach of citizenship instruction programs and ultimately make a civic, economic, and social investment that would benefit families, local communities, and the nation as a whole.