The U.S. government continues funding a costly initiative established by former President Barack Obama to offer foreigners free English, history, and civics courses as well as naturalization legal services. The money flows through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Homeland Security agency with a staff of around 19,000 that oversees lawful immigration. Launched in 2009, the program aims to expand citizenship preparation services nationwide by annually awarding thousands of dollars to a multitude of leftist groups described by the government as “immigrant-serving organizations” in dozens of states and the District of Columbia.
Officially, it is known as Citizenship and Integration Grant Program and since its inception it has doled out $112 million to 513 immigrant-serving organizations in 39 states, according to USCIS figures. The investment has helped some 290,500 foreigners prepare for U.S. citizenship, likely not a pressing issue for most taxpaying Americans. The citizenship project received its largest single-year allocation, $62 million, when the Obama administration inaugurated it 12 years ago. The Trump administration kept the taxpayer dollars flowing with substantial Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants allocated to open border groups in chunks of several hundred thousand dollars apiece. In fact, in 2019 Judicial Watch reported on the Trump administration’s $10 million allocation to the immigrant integration program.
Most of this year’s 41 grant recipients received $250,000 each although a few got several thousand dollars less. The groups are spread throughout the nation and include nonprofits such as Progreso Latino in Central Falls, Rhode Island ($250,000 grant), Instituto del Progreso Latino ($250,000) in Chicago, Illinois and Women for Afghan Women ($250,000) in Fresh Meadows, New York. One recipient of multiple integration grants, Los Angeles-based Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), led the effort to pass a California law giving illegal immigrants driver’s licenses and provided undocumented migrants with free “exam preparation classes.” CHIRLA, which fought to include illegal immigrants in COVID-19 relief at the local, state, and federal level, is getting $250,000 from American taxpayers this round to provide assimilation services.
The groups will use public funds to provide candidates with instruction in U.S. history and government for citizenship test preparation and activities that promote civic and linguistic assimilation. That includes English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction in reading, writing, and speaking by specialized teachers. Civic assimilation activities will consist of local trips to sites and landmarks of historical or cultural significance, guest speakers such as local public servants and other activities that promote in-depth understanding of government functions, geography, traditions, symbols, and holidays. Naturalization application services will cover the preparation and submission of forms required by the federal government and appearing at naturalization interviews and hearings with applicants.
Similar programs, also funded with USCIS grants, were incredibly popular during the Obama years and Judicial Watch monitored them closely. It was part of a broader, government-wide initiative launched by the former president to “strengthen federal immigrant and refugee integration infrastructure.” The mission was to facilitate life in the U.S. for immigrants and refugees by enhancing pathways to naturalization, building welcoming communities and providing “mobile immigration services in underserved communities.” To carry out the mission Obama created a special Task Force on New Americans chaired by his Domestic Policy Director, Cecilia Muñoz, the former vice president of the powerful open borders group National Council of La Raza (recently renamed Unidos US).
Millions of taxpayer dollars flowed to the task force’s various enterprises, including multilingual media campaigns promoting immigrant rights. The goal was to “strengthen civic, economic and linguistic integration and to build strong and welcoming communities,” according to a report issued by the task force. In its final months, the Obama administration doled out $29 million via USCIS grants to register new immigrant voters that likely supported Democrats in the presidential election. Officially it was described as “citizenship integration” aimed at enhancing pathways to naturalization by offering immigrants free citizenship instruction, English, U.S. history and civics courses. The money was distributed through two separate USCIS grants, the first for $19 million and a second, just five months later, for $10 million. That grant came in a final push before the presidential election to prepare approximately 25,000 residents from more than 50 countries. More than a dozen states—including California, New York, Florida, Washington. and Ohio—with large resident immigrant populations were targeted as well as cities with huge immigrant populations such as Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C.