For the first time in history the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is launching a campaign to urge Green Card holders to become American citizens, The Washington Post reported. Currently, there are 8 million Green Card holders who are eligible for American citizenship; many of them living in California, New York, Florida and Texas.
Immigration experts are welcoming the new government initiative. They stress the importance of Green Card holders to fully integrate into American society by involving themselves in the political process. Only a U.S. citizen can vote. "I think that communities run much better - a neighborhood, a city, a county, a state, a country - when the people who live there actually have a full stake in what goes on there," said Tomas Jimenez, assistant professor of sociology at Stanford University.
USCIS plans to run the campaign for three years. It will cost $11 million and include advertisements on radio, TV, print media as well as the Internet with messages in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and English. "We're going to channel part of those funds to community organizations that help immigrants so they can help us to educate and convince people to become citizens," USCIS spokesperson Mariana Gitomer said.
The campaign includes immigrant portraits of people born in China, Vietnam, Mexico, Dominican Republic and the Philippines who say they are "proud Americans". They share their personal stories of starting a business, educating their families and even running for office. One can visit USCIS website to learn more about the look and feel of the campaign.