U.S. Citizenship as an Economic Asset

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Citi Blog
By: Bob Annibale
October 5, 2012

Sheldon Caplis, Citi Community Development Regional Director, accepts the Migration Policy Institute E Pluribis Unim Corporate Leadership Award from Brad Davidson of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, which underwrites the program

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report published last week, U.S. real median household income declined between 2011 and 2010 by 1.5% to $50,054 - 8.9% below its peak in 1999. For non-citizen households, median household income is even lower at $37,894. In contrast, median income of naturalized citizen households is $51,926 - 37% higher than non-citizen households and 3.7% higher than the national median income. Numbers and trends don't tell the whole story, but the magnitude of the difference indicates that citizenship is a valuable economic asset and that naturalization leads to opportunities for higher income and achieving other household goals.

Citi is joining a number of great community partners to empower our nation's aspiring citizens to realize the goal of naturalization and access the economic opportunities associated with citizenship. In the U.S., the application cost of naturalization is $680 (and much higher for those who also pay intermediaries to assist), which is unfortunately beyond the means of many eligible applicants. To overcome this financial obstacle, Citi is supporting important pilot programs that provide microloans, along with legal and application assistance, to help pay for naturalization while enabling borrowers to build credit and increase their access to financial services. In doing so, we are assisting our newest citizens in not only building their national identities, but also their financial identities.

In Maryland, we worked with CASA de Maryland to launch the successful Citizenship Maryland program to assist eligible, aspiring Americans seeking to become citizens. Citi provided capacity-building support and technical advice to local CDFIs that are providing microloans to cover naturalization fees. We were honored when this program received significant attention, culminating in the E Pluribus Unum Prizes' Corporate Leadership Award from the Migration Policy Institute. Click here to watch the video from the Migration Policy Institute about Citi's work to remove financial barriers to citizenship.

Last week we also joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Commissioner Fatima Shama of the NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, and NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to launch NY Citizenship in Schools. This program brings together public and private partners to provide free naturalization application assistance, legal guidance, access to microloans, and financial education for eligible immigrant parents of New York City schoolchildren.

Citi is also working with San Francisco's Mission Asset Fund to expand its Lending Circles for Citizenship program, which assists low income individuals in saving toward the costs of applying for naturalization. Since its launch six months ago, more than 75 individuals have enrolled, and six individuals have already become citizens through this program.

Some of the lessons learned from these pilots are being used to inform an economic integration strategy being developed by the National Council of La Raza. Through programs like these, we are building on Citi's culture of innovation and offering solutions that support financial inclusion, help build credit, support asset-building and expand access to financial services for low income, hard-working people who are choosing to pursue their American Dream.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by CFED published on August 1, 2013 4:34 PM.

Wall Street Firms Become Landlords; Companies Rent Out Single-Family Homes They Bought During Foreclosure Crisis was the previous entry in this blog.

Inequality in America: The Data Is Sobering is the next entry in this blog.

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