New effort to help immigrants become US citizens

President Obama’s federal task force, which was created to increase the amount of immigrants that can acquire US citizenship, has just begun a nationwide tour. Kicking off in Los Angeles, the tour is seen as politically controversial, with many conservatives seeing it as a method of getting more Hispanic Democratic-leaning voters enrolled in time for the upcoming presidential elections.

The mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti met with local leaders, members of Task Force on New Americans and senior White House advisors on Friday, in a bid to help 750,000 immigrants in the greater Los Angeles area to gain the citizenship for which they are already eligible.

The task force was formed back in November 2014 as part of the Obama’s executive actions on immigration, with the aim of increasing funding for programs to help immigrants to gain citizenship, working with state and city governments to improve their ability to aid the process, and celebrating ‘New American’ citizens.

The LA visit took place at a time when the task force is trying to highlight the government offices opened by a number of states and cities for the specific purpose of helping immigrants to better integrate into the United States. Offices for New Americans have already been opened in states such as Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and New York, with local offices also opening in cities including Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Immigrants who hold a green card and are therefore legal permanent residents can apply for full US citizenship after five years, or just three years if they marry a US citizen.