Obama Administration Is Starting in L.A. to Help Immigrants Become Citizens

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times, January 29, 2016

Obama administration officials are scheduled to meet in Los Angeles on Friday with Mayor Eric Garcetti, local nonprofits and business owners to discuss ways to encourage immigrants to become U.S. citizens.

The meeting is part of a multi-city tour by the White House’s Task Force on New Americans, which the administration previewed in a call with reporters Thursday.

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In recent years California has moved repeatedly to provide rights, benefits and protections to immigrants in the country illegally, including in-state tuition, driver’s licenses, rules to limit deportations and state-funded healthcare for children.

Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose have signed on to participate in the task force, as have cities in 25 other states.

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Garcetti said Step Forward LA, a program created in 2015 that helps people determine whether they are eligible to become citizens and prepares them for the citizenship test, has helped 45,000 people.

He said there are an estimated 350,000 legal permanent residents in Los Angeles alone who are eligible to apply for citizenship but haven’t. In the greater area, the number soars to 750,000.

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Joining the White House’s effort is former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, who became a U.S. citizen in July. He said he wants people to know there are resources available to assist people starting the process and to help integrate new citizens.

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