NAC’s Eric Cohen speaks at Bush Center

“The million-dollar question is: Why are there 8.5 million people who are eligible to apply, and [only] between 750,000 and 850,000 are applying annually?” Eric Cohen asked this question as he participated in a recent panel session at the George W. Bush Center. It was largely rhetoric because Cohen gave the answer right away: “It is too hard to apply, there is a fear of applying, it is too expensive. All of these are factors that work against our economy.”

Cohen is CEO of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the New American Campaign’s coordinating agency. And he was speaking, of course, about green card holders who could, but choose not to become American citizens.

Earlier that day, former President George W. Bush spoke at a naturalization ceremony for 20 new Americans. The event was supported in part by the Carnegie Corporation and the Knight Foundation, both founding funders of the non-partisan New Americans Campaign.

“One thing the President said really stood out to me,” said Knight’s program director Damian Thorman who attended the event: “The President said: We’re a nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways.”

Added Thorman: “Helping green card holders become citizens is not just about helping individual immigrants, it’s about strengthening all of us together, as a nation – and that is what the New Americans Campaign is ultimately all about.“

You can watch the panel session (titled “Why Naturalization Matters to the Economy”) with ILRC’s Eric Cohen in the video below.


Posted on July 11, 2013

Our Impact

  • The Campaign has completed over 3,700 naturalization workshops and clinics.
  • Over 250,000 citizenship applications completed since July 2011.

    Saved aspiring citizens and their families over $206million in legal and application fees.
  • Adopted scalable technology. MP3 players, Google Voice, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services are being used to enhance naturalization service delivery.
  • Expanded New American Workforce (an effort to provide naturalization assistance within corporations) which has partnered with over 100 businesses across the nation, ranging from hotels in Miami to American Apparel in Los Angeles.
  • Deployed Citizenshipworks, an online tool, across the Campaign in multiple settings and languages. A newly redesigned platform guides applicants through through their citizenship application from start to finish and connects applicants to legal help at partnering non-profits.
  • Were instrumental in inspiring the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to support the Citizenship Corners initiative.
  • Created innovative partnerships with public libraries, school districts, universities, social service agencies, and employers, all of which yield not only greater numbers of applicants but also greater awareness of the naturalization process.
  • Deployed a large-scale volunteer recruitment program through an e-learning course.

    Reached diverse communities. Local partners consistently outreach and provide culturally competent and language-appropriate services.
Learn more from our
Impact Report.

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Who We're Helping

People come to America from all over the world with dreams of achieving a better life for themselves and their families and calling this great nation home. Eight million people who live, work, and pay taxes in this country are eligible for citizenship, yet only about eight percent of them naturalize each year. Find out more about these individuals and the barriers they face.Read More