LOS ANGELES – With 2016 being an election year it’s expected to be a busy year for citizenship applications and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is making sure they reach out to the Filipino community as part of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Generally speaking, we will see a slight increase in advance of elections that’s because people do recognize in order to vote in a federal election you have to be a United States citizen so we’re anticipating that might be the case,” said Susan Curdan, USCIS District Director.
As the White House Initiative on Asian Americans makes its rounds meeting with communities to explain how federal agencies are trying to connect with and help Asian American communities the USCIS is encouraging Filipinos to ask questions and apply for citizenship.
They’ll be hosting a series of Tagalog events in Southern California including a Monday night visit at the National City Library in the San Diego area and a Wednesday outreach at the Carson Community Center two of Southern California’s densest Filipino populations.
“We want to make sure we’re getting out to those communities and we’re speaking to them in their own language so they can thoroughly understand the importance of citizenship, the requirements for naturalization,” said Curdan.
“Part of our mission as a federal agency is to make sure we provide information so people can make a very personal choice on how they manage their immigration status, how they decide to naturalize or not we want to make sure in some of the communities where we don’t seem to be reaching very well that sometimes takes extra effort,” says Daniel Renaud, USCIS Field Operations Associate Director.
Historically Filipinos have had one of the higher green card application and naturalization rates.
In 2012, six percent of the nearly 800,000 naturalizations were from the Philippines, second to only Mexico’s 13-and-a-half percent.
“The Filipino community is a large community here and we do see more folks, specifically Spanish speaking communities, naturalizing more than our API communities,” said Curdan. “So it’s very important to us to get them that information.”
To help reach out to Filipinos the USCIS, like many of the other agencies that are part of the White House Initiative, has been hiring more Filipino staffers.