FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 7, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released data showing 1,023,200 naturalizations during Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, the highest annual number of citizens that the agency has naturalized since 2008.
Combined with 855,000 naturalized citizens during FY21, this means that nearly two million people (1,878,200) have naturalized over the last two fiscal years. In early 2021, the NPNA network called for the Biden administration to naturalize two million new citizens by the end of 2022. Soon after, NPNA and partners launched the campaign, “Naturalize 2 Million by 2022,” and launched a national tour promoting citizenship in 2022. The tour was central in accomplishing two things: the first was uplifting the stories of new citizens with the goal of encouraging eligible lawful permanent residents to become U.S. Citizens. Secondly, the tour helped to elevate the bold campaign message which went beyond a call on USCIS and became an effort that naturalization advocates within and outside the network joined. To date the campaign has garnered over 15 million views across a variety of news features largely due to earned media. In addition, NPNA’s legal services network, the “Family Protection Network”, and the Cities and Counties for Citizenship (CC4C) initiative, a crucial campaign partner, reach and assist over 200,000 lawful permanent residents each year via community education, legal orientation, workshops and application assistance.
“The newest USCIS data shows that over the last two years, almost two million new citizens have become eligible to vote, and they now have access to benefits that come with naturalization, like on average higher earnings, employment rates, and homeownership, the ability to petition for family members, and the ability to travel internationally more easily,” said Nicole Melaku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). “This data also shows that USCIS has answered the call from NPNA and our many campaign partners, to naturalize two million new citizens by the end of 2022. The Naturalize #2MillionBy2022 campaign has been a powerful messaging vehicle with events across the country that has expanded beyond our networks and reached advocates, organizations, government, and, most importantly, people who are eligible to naturalize. This work is not ours alone, but this campaign demonstrated a vision of what is possible. We call on USCIS to further expand access to citizenship by reducing barriers, including in the upcoming fee schedule rule, and continue making significant reductions to the backlog of citizenship applications.”
In 2022, NPNA and partners launched a counter part campaign to build off of the naturalization momentum, “New American Voters,” which would encourage newly naturalized citizens to vote. The campaign released a national report detailing how newly naturalized citizens could help to sway the outcome of midterm elections in Congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative races, and released 15 state reports with demographic data on new citizens in those states. The tour stops, reports, and voices of new citizens were placed in nearly 200 news stories, including in Axios, ABC’s Good Morning America, and Houston Chronicle, resulting in over 1.18 billion views. More broadly, the campaign was successful in shaping the national narrative that newly naturalized citizens could sway the outcome of national, state, and local elections, and that candidates and political parties should pay attention to them.
“The 2022 midterms were actually my first time voting,” Laila Martín García, universal representation field manager at NPNA and newly naturalized citizen. “Choosing to vote is among the most powerful expressions of fully belonging to the community I am part of. My home state of Pennsylvania was one of the most critical states during the November 2022 midterm elections, and new American voters like myself swayed the outcome. As an organizer, I know that supporting immigrants to naturalize is not the end line, we need to register to vote and show up at the polls. This year I voted for the first time but I was also able to support other new American voters, like myself, to make their voices heard.”
The newest USCIS data shows that the agency almost reached the two million mark called for by NPNA and campaign partners, achieving an estimated 93% percent in FY21 and FY22. A November 2022 NPNA policy brief credits USCIS’ success to the agency’s commonsense policies and practices aimed at promoting and facilitating naturalization. The policy brief also credits support from community-based organizations, cities and counties, and other partners that promote citizenship, including but not limited to the Naturalize 2 Million and New American Voters campaigns. According to the latest data and USCIS estimates, the agency reduced the net backlog of naturalization applications by 62% from the end of FY21 to FY22, proving the capacity of USCIS to increase naturalizations while also reducing backlogs.
The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is a national multiethnic, multiracial organization that represents 60 of the largest regional immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 40 states. Its members provide large-scale services for the communities, to leverage their collective power and expertise for a national strategy. Learn more at partnershipfornewamericans.org.
Mynellies Negrón | (703) 585-6727 | email@example.com