This nation is home to 24 million non-native non-citizens, 9 million of whom are eligible to become citizens but for the barriers of cost and English proficiency, which often stand in their way. Every year, Greater Cleveland is proud to welcome the 2,500 individuals who make the decision to become New Americans and Global Cleveland is proud to welcome each new American at every naturalization oath ceremony.

The goal of equality and full participation is enshrined in the founding documents of our nation. The Declaration of Independence begins with the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Our history has been one of continued struggle to make these words true, from the struggle to end slavery to the enfranchisement of women. Our democratic ideal is one person, one vote. This is not good for these individuals, for our nation, or for our democracy.

Global Cleveland stands by all immigrants and remains steadfast to helping aspiring citizens complete the naturalization process regardless of their political beliefs. Citizenship has many benefits, including protection against deportation, and is the antidote to the dangerous anti-immigrant sentiment that has taken a hold in this country. In the weeks, months and years ahead, we will continue our important work and stand with all immigrants when we see their rights – and the values of our country – compromised.

New Americans are not the only ones who gain advantages from increased naturalizations. We all benefit when our neighbors, and their children, are grounded in American values; citizenship does that. It’s a rite of passage that unites us, that makes us all part of the rich American fabric.

Find out more or sign up to volunteer your time at an upcoming Naturalization Ceremony here.