Millions to Help Immigrants “Foster a Sense of Belonging and Attachment” to U.S.
The Trump administration keeps pouring money into an Obama-era program that helps foreigners seeking American citizenship by offering them free English, history and civics courses as well as naturalization legal services. Last summer the administration kept the program alive with a $10 million infusion and, a few weeks ago, another $10 million went into its coffers. The cash flows via a Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Obama administration dedicated more than $62 million to similar initiatives and there was tremendous hope that President Donald Trump would put a stop to the madness, or at least slash funding. Instead, the program has been expanded to include helping refugees and asylees “foster a sense of belonging and attachment to the United States.”
The original goal, according to the Homeland Security agency that oversees lawful immigration to the U.S., is to promote the assimilation of lawful residents into the fabric of American society. “Naturalization requirements, such as knowledge of English and of U.S. history and civics, encourage civic learning and build a strong foundation upon which immigrants can fully assimilate into society,” states the initial Homeland Security grant announcement obtained by Judicial Watch. “Through preparing for naturalization, immigrants will gain the tools to become successful citizens and assimilate into our society and meet their responsibilities as United States citizens.” Extending the services to refugees and asylees is meant to promote assimilation for those who have identified naturalization as a goal yet may need additional information, instruction and services to attain it.
American taxpayers will provide candidates with instruction in U.S. history and government for citizenship test preparation and activities that promote civic and linguistic assimilation. This includes English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction in reading, writing and speaking by specialized teachers. Civic assimilation activities will include local trips to sites and landmarks of historical or cultural significance, guest speakers such as local public servants and other activities that promote in-depth understanding of government functions, geography, traditions, symbols and holidays. Naturalization application services will include the preparation and submission of forms required by the federal government and appearing at naturalization interviews and hearings with applicants. The money will be disbursed to nonprofits, local governments and schools throughout the country.
Similar programs, also funded with USCIS grants, were incredibly popular during the Obama years and Judicial Watch monitored them closely. It was part of a broader, government-wide initiative launched by the former president to “strengthen federal immigrant and refugee integration infrastructure.” The mission was 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 the 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 flowed to the task force’s various enterprises, including multilingual media campaigns promoting immigrant rights. The goal was to “strengthen civic, economic and linguistic integration and to build strong and welcoming communities,” according to a report issued by the task force.
In its final months, the Obama administration doled out $29 million via USCIS grants to register new immigrant voters that likely supported Democrats in the presidential election. Officially it was described as “citizenship integration” aimed at enhancing pathways to naturalization by offering immigrants free citizenship instruction, English, U.S. history and civics courses. The money flowed through two separate USCIS grants, the first for $19 million and a second, just five months later, for $10 million. That grant came in a final push before the presidential election to prepare approximately 25,000 residents from more than 50 countries. More than a dozen states—including California, New York, Florida, Washington and Ohio—with large resident immigrant populations were targeted as well as cities with huge immigrant populations such as Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C.