Months after the Obama administration spent $19 million to register new immigrant voters that will likely support Democrats in November, it’s dedicating an additional $10 million in a final push as the presidential election approaches. The money is distributed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Homeland Security agency that oversees lawful immigration, to organizations that help enhance pathways to naturalization by offering immigrants free citizenship instruction, English, U.S. history and civics courses. Officially, they’re known as “citizenship integration grants.”
Since 2009 USCIS has doled out $63 million in these grants to prepare more than 156,000 resident immigrants in dozens of states for U.S. citizenship, according to the agency’s figures. Besides the free classes, Uncle Sam also offers immigrants free “naturalization legal services,” the latest USCIS grant announcement states. “Recipient organizations serve both traditional immigrant destinations and new immigrant getaway cities in 21 states,” the USCIS document reads. The latest $10 million investment will prepare approximately 25,000 residents from more than 50 countries, according to the agency. More than a dozen states—including California, New York, Florida, Washington and Ohio—with large resident immigrant populations are being targeted as well as cities with huge immigrant populations such as Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been aggressive in promoting its citizen integration grant program this year, offering large sums to recruit new groups that can offer immigrants the services they need to become citizens. Clearly, the ultimate goal is qualifying as many immigrants as possible to vote since they tend to cast ballots for Democrats. “We intend to award about $1 million to first-time recipients in the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program for fiscal year 2016,” the agency’s grant announcement states. “If you represent one of these organizations, or know of an interested organization, we strongly encourage that organization to consider applying. Additionally, another $9 million will fund programs that provide both citizenship instruction and instruction and naturalization application services.” Some might consider this a cash giveaway.
This is part of a broader, government-wide initiative launched by the president to “strengthen federal immigrant and refugee integration infrastructure.” The mission is to facilitate life in the U.S. for immigrants and refugees by enhancing pathways to naturalization, building welcoming communities and providing “mobile immigration services in underserved communities.” To carry out this important mission Obama created a special Task Force on New Americans chaired by his Domestic Policy Director, Cecilia Muñoz, the former vice president of the powerful open borders group National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Millions of taxpayer dollars have funded the task force’s various enterprises, including multilingual media campaigns promoting immigrant rights. The goal is to “strengthen civic, economic and linguistic integration and to build strong and welcoming communities,” according to a report issued by the task force. In the end communities will be strengthened by welcoming all residents, the administration assures.
Practically every federal agency is participating in the effort by contributing resources and creating programs to help immigrants. For example the Department of Labor (DOL) is implementing “new workforce programs” for the “new Americans” and the Department of Education is promoting “funding opportunities” to assure that the immigrants “are provided the tools they need to succeed.” The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is collaborating with other agencies to release a career and credentialing toolkit on “immigrant-focused career-pathways programs.” The Department of Justice (DOJ) and USCIS are making sure the new Americans have worker rights and protections and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is launching a two-year pilot to assure that non English speakers have “meaningful access to housing programs” subsidized by American taxpayers.
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