As we highlighted two
weeks ago, the Arizona legislature and Governor's decisions
to pass a punitive, anti-immigrant bill - SB1070
- have unleashed a torrent of condemnations inside and outside of
Arizona. Voices speaking up against the bill have come not only from
civil rights organizations, but have also included public safety
officials, constitutional legal scholars, and, significantly, Republican
leaders and candidates from other states with
significant immigrant populations.
JERSEY CITY, NJ — At a press conference this morning, Gov. Jon Corzine
unveiled the results of his Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigration Policy,
which included recommendations for the establishment of an Office on
New Americans to help integrate immigrant families into the state’s
culture and work force. Policy experts at the Progressive States
Network (PSN) were quick to praise the panel’s recommendations, which
they placed within an emerging trend among state lawmakers to include
working immigrant families into plans for shared economic growth.
According to PSN Interim Executive Director Nathan Newman, who authored
a comprehensive 50-state analysis of state immigration policy last
September, “The story that states are rushing out to punish
undocumented immigrants is really a smoke screen. When you look at the
facts, you see that more and more states are finding ways to integrate
immigrants into a growing workforce and thriving small business
community. States like New Jersey realize that there is a far better
economic future in working together than there is in dividing the
population against itself.”
and local governments can take action to further assist naturalization -- from
improving registration procedures at driver licensing offices and other
government offices, to assisting in the naturalization process. Illinois' Office of New
has become the leader among the at least 15
have offices to tailor services to immigrants and help with naturalization.
can create government offices or fund organizations to assist immigrants to
successfully complete the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship through
naturalization. A few recent examples include:
In February 2008, Washington's
Governor Christine Gregoire signed Executive Order
08-01, creating a New Americans Policy Council to promote naturalization, English skills, and
public-private partnerships for integration. The Washington state legislature
took the additional
step of providing $340,000 in funding to promote community economic
development and build the capacity of organizations across the state that
provide naturalization assistance to legal permanent residents.
1096 appropriates funds for English language
learners, and Missouri HB
2010 provides funds for naturalization
assistance to certain legal immigrants.
also enact refundable tax credits for naturalization expenses:
Indiana's SB 240 would create an
Adult Education Tax Credit which would give employers a credit of up to
$300 per employee and up to $5,000 per year for payment of an employee's
expenses related to adult education programs, including citizenship
Minnesota's HF 747 would create
a specific Citizenship Income Tax Credit.
Texas's HB 240 would require
school districts to grant students an excused absence from school when
appearing at a governmental office to complete paperwork required in
connection with the student's application for U.S. citizenship or to take
part in a naturalization oath ceremony.
can also improve government communication and coordination over programs
promoting immigrant integration:
Illinois's SB 1746 enacted the Latino
Family Commission in 2007, which will advise the Governor and General Assembly,
as well as work directly with State agencies to improve and expand
existing policies, services, programs, and opportunities for Latino
families. In 2008, Illinois approved SB 783 to
provide funds for more bilingual personnel in public agencies.