As part of the overall effort to turn around the attitude toward immigration in the United States, last Tuesday I announced a program called Citizenship NYC. The program is unique and it's the largest of its kind in the country.
In establishing Citizenship NYC, New York City is trying to help those individuals applying for citizenship and to work along with the federal government in making sure those who apply can get processed timely and efficiently.
Part of the reason for this program is to help those immigrants currently at risk of losing benefits under the new welfare and immigration laws and to build an ongoing mechanism in the City of New York to guard against this kind of abuse of people in the future.
Although the Federal Budget Agreement that was reached last week restores some of the benefits that were to be taken away from immigrants under the new federal welfare and immigration laws, many immigrants will continue to be treated unfairly.
The only way to ensure that immigrants be treated the same as everyone else is to make sure they become naturalized citizens as soon as possible.
As allocated in New York City's Executive Budget that I presented to the City Council last week, the City will set up six offices in key locations throughout the city to help immigrants at every stage of the naturalization process.
These offices will assist immigrants in everything from filling out application forms to fingerprinting to negotiating the complicated bureaucracy of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. It will be the caseworker's mission at the office to make sure that this effort is professional and as efficient as possible.
The office will coordinate a comprehensive approach to help immigrants fulfill their dreams of citizenship.
A public education campaign will inform legal immigrants about their rights to become naturalized citizens and encourage them to use the services provided by this program. Contracts with community-based organizations will provide immigrants with the programs necessary to acquire the knowledge and skills to become citizens.
Through every stage of the process, we will be assisting immigrants to become citizens. Of course, the ultimate responsibility lies with the Federal Government, but the City will do everything it can to help make the process of naturalization as streamlined and as easy as possible.
From Gracie Mansion, once again Happy Mother's Day, this is Rudy Giuliani.