1 Building Strong Communities in Orange County: The Case for Citizenship & A Coordinated Statewide Funding Strategy An estimated 2.5 million citizenship-eligible immigrants accounting for a quarter of all citizenship-eligible immigrants in the United States live in California. Indeed, the Golden State leads the nation in the number of citizenship-eligible immigrants. Orange County is the third largest county in the state yet has the second largest citizenship-ready population in California with nearly 240,000 immigrants eligible to naturalize. Indeed, international migration over the past 30 years has contributed to the county s growth with the share of foreign-born residents growing from 6% in 1970 to 30% in Naturalization brings significant social, economic, and civic benefits not only to newcomers and their families but also to local communities, the state, and the country as a whole. In order to help large numbers of immigrants become U.S. citizens, however, Orange County must build a stronger immigrant integration infrastructure that expands access to immigration legal services, citizenship application assistance, and English language instruction. These services are crucial to helping newcomers achieve citizenship, establish a social and economic foothold, and become full and active members of society. Scarce public and private resources create an imperative for foundations to work together at the regional, state, and national levels to develop and implement a coordinated funding strategy to promote citizenship and civic participation. In so doing, funders can leverage their grantmaking and create economies of scale to ensure that immigrants and the communities in which they live and work reap the many benefits of citizenship. Benefits of Citizenship Civic Engagement. Many immigrants are motivated to naturalize as an expression of pride and commitment to their new homeland. As a result, attaining citizenship often leads to higher levels of civic engagement. For example, once immigrants become U.S. citizens and register to vote, they are just as likely as other Americans to cast a ballot: 89% of native-born and foreign-born citizens who are registered to vote actually do so. 2 In 2008, xxx of immigrant voters went to the polls in Orange County. In 2006 there were 611,754 Orange County residents who were either naturalized or eligible to naturalize and another 109,116 children of immigrants who will be eligible to vote in Together, they will join others like them to make up almost one-third of all potential California 1 Orange County 2011 Community Indicators. Orange County Community Indicators Project. Irvine, CA: Web. 2 Rob Paral and Associates. Benchmarks of Immigrant Civic Engagement. Prepared for Carnegie Corporation of New York. New York, NY: July 2010.
2 voters in 2012 and will be well-positioned to shape the policy debate and political face of the state. 3 Economic Mobility. Naturalization affords immigrants numerous opportunities that lead to greater economic security through better jobs and accelerated wage growth. 4 For example, naturalized male immigrants under the age of 30 have a wage advantage of 5.4 to 11.8 percent over their non-naturalized counterparts 5, and the average income of adult citizen immigrants is 33 percent higher and the poverty rate six percentage points lower than that of non-citizens. 6 In general, naturalized citizens have access to better jobs, such as white-collar and union employment, as well as positions in the public sector, the federal government, and those requiring security clearances. 7 They are also eligible for educational scholarships and grants programs that bolster their long-term earning potential. In addition to creating greater economic mobility for them and their families, higher earnings of naturalized citizens translate into tangible economic benefits for the broader society, including higher consumer spending and tax contributions. Citizens can petition for their family members to obtain lawful permanent resident status and who can then contribute to family income. Education. Naturalized citizen students qualify for more financial aid than noncitizens. 8 For example, the Rhodes Scholarship, the Fulbright Program, admission to U.S. Service Academies, and some private scholarships are available only to U.S. citizens. 9 U.S. citizenship provides greater access to resources that make postsecondary education more attainable, thereby expanding immigrant students long-term job prospects and earning potential. English language learners (ELL) are more likely to come from an immigrant family background. With 28.2% of Orange County students classified as ELL in , encouraging citizenship for eligible students and their parents will impact the lives of nearly a third of Orange County children. 10 Health. Access to affordable, quality health care is a challenge for many immigrants. In Orange County, 10.4% of naturalized citizens lack health insurance coverage compared with 38.7% of non-citizen residents. 11 Recently enacted federal health care reform legislation provides coverage for about 4.6 million more nonelderly Californians, including lawful permanent 3 Rob Paral and Associates. Integration Potential of California s Immigrants and Their Children. Sebastopol, CA: California Immigrant Integration Initiative of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Author s estimates: county estimates based on proportions from the 2008 report by Rob Paral and Associates. 4 Bratsburg, Bernt, James F. Ragan, & Zafar M. Nasir. The Effect of Naturalization on Wage Growth: A Panel Study of Young Male Immigrants. Journal of Labor Economics. Volume 20. Issue 3 (2002): Web. 5 Ibid. 6 Shierholz, Heidi. The Effects of Citizenship on Family Income and Poverty. Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper #256, February 24, Web. 7 Bratsburg et al. 8 College Board, "Advising Undocumented Students," (accessed November 2010). 9 Becker, Aliza. Building Bridges: A Resource Guide on Citizenship. Macomb, Illinois: Illinois State Board of Education, The State of Education in Orange County Costa Mesa: Orange County Department of Education Community Report Web. 11 California Health Interview Survey. CHIS 2009 Public Use File. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, January 2009.
3 residents and naturalized citizens. 12 Yet some lawful permanent residents may be concerned that signing up for government programs such as Medicaid or SCHIP will endanger their immigration status by categorizing them as a public charge. 13 Although enrolling in such programs will not adversely impact one s immigration status, such confusion can be avoided by becoming a citizen.providing access to quality health care to a larger pool of individuals helps to hold down associated costs for everyone and ensures the overall health of U.S. communities. 14 Strengthening Families. For many immigrants, naturalization is an important pathway for maintaining or restoring family unity. Parents who naturalize before their noncitizen children turn 18 years old can also petition for their children to become citizens. And U.S. citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring close family members to this country as lawful permanent residents. 15 Generally speaking, families are stronger when they are able to stay together, and strong families, in turn, promote greater social stability and build stronger communities for all members. Family reunification can also help improve the overall economic status of immigrant families as it increases the total number of current or future household income earners. 12 Driscoll, Gwendolyn. New!: 4.57 million eligible for health care reform expansion in Calif.. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Listserv. May 10, Fremstad, S. and L. Cox. Covering New Americans: A Review of Federal and State Policies Related to Immigrants Eligibility and Access to Publicly Funded Health Insurance. Washington, D.C.: Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, Walton, Flavia, Ph.D. Community Health Leaders Address Health and Health Care for Immigrants and Their Families. Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leaders, April Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
4 The California Citizenship Initiative Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) has embarked on a statewide initiative to promote citizenship and civic participation among California s estimated 2.5 million citizenship-eligible immigrants. The California Citizenship Initiative builds on several years of discussion, research, and groundwork by GCIR and members of its California Immigrant Integration Initiative (CIII). Since 2007, CIII has engaged more than 25 statewide and local funders in efforts to strengthen the immigrant integration infrastructure in the state. Over the past 18 months, most of the funders involved in the CIII network have focused their attention and resources on a landmark 2010 Census project, which involved nearly 20 foundations statewide and leveraged national funding to increase census participation in historically undercounted regions of the state. Project Rationale. The California Citizenship Initiative is poised to build on the relationships developed within philanthropy and the nonprofit sector as part of the 2010 Census project. A coordinated funder response is imperative in California, particularly given the sheer size of the citizenship-eligible population, the scale of needed expansion of ESL instruction and immigration legal services, and the geographic and demographic diversity within the state. The initiative responds to funders interested in maintaining benefits eligibility for immigrants in the midst of a state fiscal crisis, those who seek to improve job outcomes and build assets among low-income groups, as well as those seeking to increase civic and political participation in disenfranchised communities. GCIR s Approach. The California Citizenship Initiative builds on the lessons learned during the wave of naturalization programs implemented following the 1996 federal welfare reform law and promising practices utilized in recent citizenship campaigns. It is also modeled after what worked well in the 2010 Census project in California including building a big tent to engage stakeholders with diverse interests, but allocating time as well as human and financial resources where they are likely to have the greatest impact. Our efforts are guided by five core principles: 1. Pilot innovation. Because most naturalization programs have not changed significantly in the last 15 years, this initiative has the opportunity to spur innovation through the use of new technologies and other practices. With funding from CIII foundation partners, innovations being developed include: interactive, self-help tools to assist immigrants in applying for naturalization (e.g., Turbo Tax -like software); a Web portal to support community-based and legal services groups to provide high-quality citizenship services; and ways to use cell and smart phone technology for outreach to immigrants. Other ideas include using asset-building strategies such as savings and low-cost loan programs to help low- and moderate-income applicants pay for application fees (which more than doubled from $330 to $675 in 2009) and other associated costs which present formidable and well-documented financial barriers to citizenship National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Citizenship Beyond Reach. Washington, D.C.: NCLR, 2009.
5 2. Facilitate local funder collaboration. One of the most successful aspects of the 2010 Census campaign was local funder collaboration. GCIR is developing a similar model for the California Citizenship Initiative with the goal of expanding outreach, education, and legal services capacity in at least five counties with high concentrations of citizenshipeligible immigrants (see accompanying chart for the top-ten counties). Engaging local funding leadership, strengthening local capacity, and developing the structures and resources needed to support community-based outreach campaigns are the cornerstones of this effort. 3. Leverage local, state, and national funding. Through the 2010 Census campaign, GCIR helped raise and coordinate the allocation of nearly $10 million in focused, timelimited philanthropic investments from local, state, and national funders. Engaging statewide and national funders is critical to supporting citizenship efforts in regions of the state with fewer local philanthropic resources as well as leveraging local dollars in regions with a strong philanthropic presence. To this end, GCIR is working with national funders to help address geographic and strategic funding gaps, and to coordinate with state and local funders to the greatest possible extent. 4. Promote economies of scale. The California Citizenship Initiative focuses on coordinating county-level and statewide strategy development, planning, implementation, and evaluation. GCIR is working with funders in local and/or regional clusters and engaging statewide and national funders to fill in gaps where needed. In addition, we are working with a range of national groups 17 to centralize key resources including messaging, training, and immigration legal assistance that support the efforts of local community-based organizations. Playing an intermediary role, GCIR is wellpositioned to facilitate local, state, and national connections to increase communication, minimize duplication, and maximize resources. 5. Share information and best practices. GCIR and CIII partners have a strong track record of sharing information and best practices with funders and other stakeholders in California and across the country. Documenting best practices and lessons learned on funder coordination and program design and implementation is central to our efforts. In addition to improving local implementation, GCIR is committed to learning from and adapting this initiative to other parts of the United States, particularly those states with large numbers of citizenship-eligible immigrants. GCIR believes the future of California is inextricably linked to how well we integrate immigrants into our communities and the integration process is greatly enhanced when citizenship-eligible immigrants are provided with the support, information, and resources to take that next step. The many benefits of citizenship from enhanced civic participation to greater economic mobility and access to health care to educational attainment are accrued not only to those who naturalize, but also to our society as a whole. 17 These national groups include but are not limited to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and Immigration Legal Resource Center (ILRC).
6 California Immigrant Integration Initiative Southern California Naturalization Data Country/World Region of Origin of Legal Immigrants Eligible to Naturalize: California Counties: 2008 Geography Total Europe Other Asia China Philippines Vietnam Other Central America Mexico El Salvador Other Areas California 2,460, , ,087 73, ,892 85,427 81, ,824 80, ,855 Los Angeles County 808,185 48, ,155 23,196 40,483 17,321 53, ,442 54,310 84,122 Orange County 237,428 3,515 51,118 4,576 9,202 18,402 4,628 98,569 2,990 24,428 San Diego County 155,795 15,946 28,711 2,892 12,556 6,807 1,704 68, ,501 Riverside County 111,595 6,022 9,817 1,759 4,989 1,881 3,958 66,990 2,040 14,138 San Bernardino County 106,825 5,230 16,669 2,056 8,645 1,603 1,405 55,724 2,866 12,627 Ventura County 41,061 5,639 3, , ,439 Geography Estimates of Subpopulations Eligible to Naturalize Don't Speak English Well 65 Years of Age or Older 50+ Years of Age and in U.S. 20+ Years OR 55+ Years of Age and in U.S. 15+ Years Under 18 Years of Age California 949, , , ,806 Los Angeles County 327,088 63, ,117 52,409 Orange County 94,535 20,163 38,833 15,919 San Diego County 59,001 13,153 25,568 10,619 Riverside County 49,445 7,749 17,427 7,686 San Bernardino County 43,967 7,971 16,669 7,337 Ventura County 16,480 3,191 6,957 2,869