New Tulsa Initiative Seeks To Remove Barriers To Citizenship
TULSA, Oklahoma - There are an estimated 10,000 immigrants in Tulsa who qualify for citizenship but haven't taken that step. Now, city government and charities are working together to get them started.
Mayor G.T. Bynum said he believes Tulsa is transitioning to a global city and that makes it more important than ever to tap into the abilities of immigrants by helping them become U.S. citizens.
Once a month, Tulsa welcomes a group of immigrants as they complete the process of naturalization. Twenty-five to 40 immigrants each month are naturalized in Tulsa, but there’s a new effort to encourage more people to make the commitment.
“One of the ways we can do that is by making sure our immigrant community here in Tulsa, they can get an education, find work, and be invited into the leadership of the city,” said Bynum.
The YWCA plans to use a new grant to target help for the permanent residents who are already here - to move them towards naturalization.
“The freedom, the opportunity that we have,” said naturalized citizen Thang Gin Piang, “as long as you try hard and do right, you can be successful, and that’s a huge opportunity that America offers.”
The YWCA announced a new grant to assist immigrants in the process -- $50,000 to help with application costs and to provide training for the citizenship test.
The grant, and the effort to embrace more immigrants, is part of Mayor Bynum’s “New Tulsans” initiative meant to help immigrants become productive U.S. citizens.
“As we increase naturalization rates, we’ll see more people who will be able to contribute fully and we’ll see more individuals feel more welcome, and we’ll become more of a united city,” Bynum said.
"The YWCA has a track record of being able to work successfully with ESL and Civics classes and helping with the naturalization legal process," said Christina da Silva, City of Tulsa.
The YWCA is the contact point for this effort and the City of Tulsa has a lot of resources online for new Tulsans.