80th Annual Meeting


WHEREAS, the United States is a nation of immigrants, a nation in which immigrants have made and continue to make contributions to our economy and culture; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has historically recognized the economic contributions that immigrants have made by creating new jobs, developing innovative products and ideas, and connecting our economy to global markets; and

WHEREAS, the economic contributions of immigrants include over 40% of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, and immigrants are almost twice as likely to start new businesses than the native born; and 

WHEREAS, immigrant-founded companies created around 450,000 jobs in under a decade, and generated an estimated $52 billion in sales in a single year (2005); and

WHEREAS, from 1990 to 2006, the cities with the biggest increase in immigrant workers were the cities with the fastest economic growth; and

WHEREAS, a comprehensive study estimated that legal and illegal immigrants paid $162 billion in federal, state, and local taxes in one year alone (1997); and

WHEREAS, undocumented immigrants paid $11.2 billion in taxes in 2010 and nearly half of all undocumented immigrants pay income taxes; and

WHEREAS,  the U.S. Conference of Mayors honors the contributions that immigrants have historically made to the defense of our nation, from Revolutionary War hero General Casimir Pulaski to the 68,000 immigrants serving in our armed forces today; and

WHEREAS, the process of becoming a naturalized U.S. Citizen is the ultimate expression of commitment to our United States of America; and

WHEREAS, the decision by immigrants to become a U.S. citizen involves a lengthy legal process with a 10 page application (N-400), paying a significant application fee, undergoing a full background check, learning English, studying for and passing a written and verbal exam in English on the history and government system of our democracy; and

WHEREAS, immigrants who apply for and fulfill the requirements for U.S. citizenship become naturalized at an Oath Ceremony administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, at which the immigrant raises their right hand and swears:

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me Go; ."and

WHEREAS, those immigrants who have taken the step to become U.S. citizens are more likely to have learned English and earn more than non-citizens; and

WHEREAS, of the 12,630,000 legal permanent residents (“Green Card” holders) residing in the United States, there are currently 8,070,000 legal permanent residents who have fulfilled the residency requirements and who are currently eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship; and

WHEREAS, in 2010 only 619,000 of those legal permanent residents eligible (less than eight percent) applied for U.S. citizenship; and

WHEREAS, many legal permanent residents lack the information necessary to undergo the full naturalization process, and face additional barriers of lack of education and English; and

WHEREAS, the cost of applying for citizenship has risen from $225 in the year 2000 to $680 in 2012 (an increase of 202 percent), and has become a significant barrier to citizenship for many working class immigrants who desire to be and who would be fine U.S. citizens, while the cost of simply renewing one’s “Green Card” status for 10 years is only $450; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognizes that one of the reasons for these steep fee increases is the determination by the U.S. Congress that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services must support their work through the fees they charge; and

WHEREAS, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has in recent years striven to address the barriers to U.S. citizenship by limiting further application fee increases, creating a uniform fee waiver system for disadvantaged immigrants who desire to become U.S. citizens, and creating a U.S. Citizenship Toolkit in order to assist immigrants and those who would assist them in becoming U.S. Citizens; and

WHEREAS, it is in the best interests of both our nation and of the immigrants themselves for those residing upon our shores, benefitting from our freedoms, and contributing with their labor, to take the step to assume their full rights and their full responsibilities to our nation as citizens; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognizes that it is the responsibility of the U.S. government to set and administer the requirements of U.S. citizenship; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors affirms that in our nation we have a shared responsibility to promote full participation in our democracy, and affirms the ground-breaking efforts of states such as the “Illinois’s New Americans Initiative”, the “New York State Citizenship Initiative”, and the “Washington New Americans” campaign to fund programs to assist legal permanent residents to apply for their U.S. citizenship, and the municipal citizenship efforts by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors affirms the efforts of such organizations as the National Partnership for New Americans, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, the National Immigration Forum, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association to promote the value of U.S. Citizenship and the full participation in our democracy,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to fully examine the barriers to U.S. citizenship, including the current fee structure and the possibility of reducing the cost of U.S. citizenship, and to implement policies that will make U.S. citizenship available to those legal permanent residents who desire to be and who meet the requirements of becoming U.S. citizens; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls for the Federal Government to launch a “New Americans Initiative” using support from multiple agencies, such as the USCIS and the Department of Education, to actively promote the value of U.S. Citizenship to our democracy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls for federal resources to promote U.S. citizenship, including the full funding of immigrant integration grants offered by the USCIS, funding qualified non-profits and community colleges to assist legal permanent residents with their citizenship applications; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to change its current requirement that all USCIS services (including U.S. citizenship) be funded fully from fees, and provide federal resources to support the costs of naturalization; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Mayors across this nation to initiate municipal level “New Americans Initiatives”, with public service information campaigns to promote U.S. Citizenship; work with local Community Colleges, English language programs, libraries, local elected officials, and non-profits to host citizenship workshops; and generally promote the value of full participation in our democracy, assuming full rights and responsibilities, to the 8,000,070 legal permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship.


RESOLUTION ADOPTED JUNE 2012