$3.5million Ad Campaign Launched by the Government to Promote Citizenship to Immigrants

Daily Mail (London), May 25, 2011

A multi-million dollar advertisement campaign will be launched by the government to encourage more immigrants to become American citizens, officials have announced.

Multi-lingual print, radio and digital adverts will feature testimonials from immigrants born in China, Mexico, Vietnam and other countries, sharing their personal stories of success running businesses, educating their families and even running for office in America.

The huge campaign–the first of its kind–aims to reach roughly 7.9 million immigrants eligible to apply to for citizenship in an effort to make them integrate with the general public. Sceptics, however, argue that with little real incentive for immigrants to become citizens, the adverts will be costly but ineffective.

The campaign, which will run primarily in California, New York, Florida and Texas between May 30 and Labor Day, aims to put citizenship in the forefront of immigrants’ minds.

It will run in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese, providing inspirational stories of assimilation before pointing immigrants to a government web site where they can download application forms and materials to help them study for a citizenship test.

It is thought many immigrants do not apply for citizenship because they fear their English is not good enough or simply see no practical reason to do so.

‘You’ve got to create that sense of urgency, and until they’ve reached that sense of urgency, they’ll just coast,’ said Nathan Stiefel, division chief of policy and programs for the Office of Citizenship at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

It is the first time the immigration agency has launched a paid advertising campaign to promote American citizenship, said Mariana Gitomer, an agency spokeswoman.

The effort, which will cost $3.5 million over three years, is part of an $11 million allotment by Congress to encourage greater immigrant integration.

About 64 percent of immigrants naturalise and it takes them on average nine-and-a-half years to apply to do so, Stiefel said.

‘I think that communities run much better–a neighbourhood, a city, a county, a state, a country–when the people who live there actually have a full stake in what goes on there,’ said Tomas Jimenez, assistant professor of sociology at Stanford University.

More than 700,000 immigrants applied to become U.S. citizens in the last fiscal year, up 25 percent from a year earlier, according to Citizenship and Immigration Services statistics.

Immigrants may apply to become U.S. citizens if they have a green card for five years, show good moral character and pass English and civics tests.

Those are married to U.S. citizens may be able to apply sooner. Citizens can vote, travel with an American passport, serve on a jury and sponsor more family members to join them in the United States.

Advertisements might help reach immigrants who are on the fence about becoming citizens, said Thomas Donahoe, citizenship coordinator at the Orange Education Center in California, though he questioned whether they’ would be spurred to action.

On a day-to-day basis, many immigrants don’t feel much of a difference exists between having a green card and being a citizen–except perhaps when elections roll around and they can’t vote, critics said.

Sonia Gomez, an administrative secretary, came to America from Mexico when she was one year old and uses a green card.

Aside from when she visits relatives in Mexico and needs her passport, the 39-year-old said she doesn’t think much about her citizenship.

‘It is a fleeting thought in my mind,” said Gomez, of Orange, California. ‘It just pops up every now and then, and then it just goes away.’

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  • Question Diversity

    Promote citizenship? Why should they want to become citizens? Seems like they benefit a lot more by remaining a legal or illegal alien.

    Multi-lingual print, radio and digital adverts will feature testimonials from immigrants born in China, Mexico, Vietnam and other countries, sharing their personal stories of success running businesses…

    “Running businesses.” You mean like constantly buying and selling small businesses from each other using SBA loans, in sort of a Ponzi scheme operation?

    On a day-to-day basis, many immigrants don’t feel much of a difference exists between having a green card and being a citizen—except perhaps when elections roll around and they can’t vote, critics said.

    Really? Don’t think that non-citizens can’t and don’t vote. At least 3 million did in 2000. What do you think Motor-Voter is about? The people who run election boards surely won’t turn down a non-citizen from registering to vote, and hardly any level of government seems like it wants to punish non-citizen voting. (Except with the precedent set by today’s SCOTUS decision on AR’s P.A.N. initiative, state government just might start doing that, even if the Feds are recalcitrant.)

  • Tim Mc Hugh

    One of my most angering, “Kick me, I`m American!” moments took place in Albuquerque. I was hanging around the downtown square and saw people streaming into the Convention center. So I thought I`d walk around, bathroom up , feel some A/C and check out the building…

    They were having a naturalization ceremony for about a thousand immigrants. Didn`t see ONE White one. As soon as I hit the escalator, a White woman, starts calling out “Excuse me!!” then confronts me to my purpose while five thousand Mestizos walked past her. I told her I was staying at the Marriot and wanted to see some civic construction. She told me that it was Off Limits for me, but non citizens and their guests were streaming in unopposed. I walked before being detained by security.

  • Anonymous

    They do not care about this country, why would they want to be a citizen? All they want to do is reap benefits and try to make our country like Mexico. You know if these illegals took half of the energy they use to come here illegally and put that effort into making their country a better place, we would not have these problems!

  • BannerRWB

    “‘It is a fleeting thought in my mind,” said Gomez, of Orange, California.”: She doesn’t need U.S. citizenship, probably doesn’t want U.S. citizenship, and would probably be chastized by her Mexican friends if she applied, so why should she bother? Otherwise, America doesn’t need her as a citizen, and such action surely will not change her national loyalty, so again, why bother with such an effort in the first place?

    – “…to apply for citizenship in an effort to make them integrate with the general public.”: Sure, like all the other La Raza citizens..

  • Anonymous

    When will white people start to recall their traitor politicians?

  • SF Paul

    “see no practical reason to do so” is simplifying the situation. Why be a citizen when they can use their language for work, shopping and of course all government interaction? Even written drivers license test in their language and of course the driving test will be by someone speaking their language. Cultural celebration day is every day for many immigrants.

  • Michael Dean Miller

    If the British restricted social benefit payments to citizens ONLY, they wouldn’t be in their current mess.

    Now, if I could just get my own elected representatives to do that, I wouldn’t feel like a hypocrite.

  • Recovering Republican

    The Obama Administration is just trying to create some more Democratic voters before 2012.

  • Native Son

    A multi-million dollar advertisement campaign will be launched by the government to encourage more immigrants to become American citizens, officials have announced.

    I thought this was about immigrants in Britain because the source listed is the Daily Mail (London). Did any American press report this? Strange how often we have to go to the British press to find out information about the US, information the msm or government do not want us to know.