Pittsburgh joins 13 other cities to promote citizenship among legal immigrants
December 13, 2014 12:00 AM
Protesters carry banners depicting the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Statue of Liberty as they march Friday from Downtown to the Station Square office of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to demand changes in the nation’s immigration system. Friday was the day Catholics honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, a holiday for Mexicans and many other Latin Americans.
By Mark Roth / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh is joining 13 other cities in a new campaign to get legal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
Cities for Citizenship was formed by the mayors of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York three months ago to promote some progress on immigration despite the polarized division on the issue in Washington, D.C.
“Immigrants who become naturalized citizens make significant contributions to our communities, our city and our country, and it’s in our collective interest to promote naturalization,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel when the group was set up.
Pittsburgh will join Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Denver; Milwaukee; Nashville, Tenn.; Philadelphia; Seattle; and Washington in the Cities for Citizenship effort. The expanded cohort will be formally announced Monday at the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Los Angeles.
A study sponsored by Cities for Citizenship concluded that when an immigrant who holds a green card or other legal visa becomes a citizen, he or she can increase average earnings by about 8 percent annually because of being able to switch to a higher-paying job or industry.
In New York alone, the University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration has calculated, getting half of legal immigrants to naturalize would add between $1.8 billion and $4.1 billion over 10 years to the local economy and would generate between $270 million and $600 million in new state and local taxes.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced in May that the city would officially become a “welcoming city” to immigrants.
Betty Cruz, the city administration’s nonprofit and faith-based manager, will attend the Los Angeles event next week.
In a recent interview, she said the city is hoping to begin holding citizenship ceremonies in the City-County Building and already has begun meetings between police and refugees from Bhutan to help teach them how to avoid being victimized by criminals and how to trust the police.
Pittsburgh’s participation in the national citizenship effort, she said, is in line with the mayor’s previous emphasis on “the importance of cities taking control of what’s happening outside the noise and chaos in Washington.”
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