New Report Calculates Benefit of Citizenship to Cities

In conjunction with the launch of the Cities for Citizenship initiative, a new report was released on September 17 that touts the benefit of naturalization to America’s cities. The report, released by the National Partnership for New Americans, the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California, and the Center for Popular Democracy, calculates the benefit of naturalization to the earnings of immigrants living in the three cities whose mayors lead the Cities for Citizenship: Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. It also calculates the resulting economic benefit for those three cities.

The report looks at various scenarios in which the number of immigrants becoming citizens annually would be increased over current levels. It then projects the results over a period of five, seven and ten years.

For example, for New York, the additional earnings that the new citizens would experience after naturalizing would be from $1.8 billion to $4.1 billion, in total, over a period of 10 years. This would boost New York’s economy by an estimated $2.2 billion to $4.8 billion over 10 year, generating additional taxes of $268 million to $596 million.

For Los Angeles, additional earnings of new  citizens would range from $1.6 billion to $2.8 billion over 10 years, boosting the city’s economy by $1.8 billion to $3.3 billion and boosting local and state taxes by $179 million to $317 million.

Chicago would similarly benefit, with $986 million to $1.6 billion in additional income earned by naturalized citizens, resulting in a gain of $1.1 billion to $1.8 billion in GDP and additional tax revenue of $104 million to $166 million.

Leaders in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago understand the benefits of naturalization to their cities. They have established various programs to help immigrants become citizens—briefly discussed in the report. Los Angeles, in partnership with USCIS, provides citizenship information and classes in its public libraries. New York has its NYCitizenship program, which connects immigrants with legal and financial assistance to help them apply for citizenship. For the past six years, Chicago’s New Americans Initiative has helped 90,000 immigrants become citizens.

The report, the first in an ongoing research effort by Cities for Citizenship, contains a set of recommendations that cities might follow to boost the rate at which immigrants are becoming citizens. It can be obtained here.

A version of this article was written for the National Immigration Forum and appeared on the website of the New Americans Campaign.