U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced in July of 2022 that it created the citizenship ambassador initiative, which is the first of its kind in the U.S. It features eight ambassadors from around the country who are well-established community leaders. In this role, the immigrant citizens will promote citizenship and the opportunities for citizenship by using their own experiences as immigrants.
- Magdalena Alvarado, President, Ser y Hacer Galveston, Galveston, TX
- Abdirizak Bihi, Executive Director, Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, Minneapolis, MN
- Myriam Mezadieu, Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Legal Services, Miami, FL
- Nam Loc Nguyen, Former Director of Immigration and Refugee Department, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Orange County, CA
- Margarita Rocha, Executive Director, Centro La Familia Advocacy Services, Central Valley, CA
- Luis Shephard, Community Leader, Boston, MA
- Mara Vaughn, Professor, University of North Texas at Dallas, Dallas-Fort Worth, TX;
- Pao Yang, Executive Director, President and CEO, The Fresno Center (TFC), Fresno, CA.
Their goal is to build personal and local connections among the 9.1 million lawful permanent residents who may qualify for the naturalization process even though they may not realize it or otherwise not have access.
“Granting citizenship is vital to our nation’s economic prosperity and a future built on America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou. “The citizenship ambassador initiative is a positive step towards raising awareness of the many benefits of U.S. citizenship and providing tools that help immigrants become successful as they embark on their journey as new citizens and beyond.”
Following through on a promise
The ambassador initiative is an outgrowth of President Biden’s Executive Order 1412 that promotes naturalization as well as the Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization. The eight choices are spread around the country, coming from various countries and cultures. Celebrating their differences, they will:
- Share their own experience with the naturalization process
- Highlight resources and discuss available information
- Underscore the advantages of being a U.S. citizen
- Inspire others to pursue similar dreams
- Address any common myths or misconceptions
It is an unpaid position, but they will coordinate with USCIS staff, mainly assisting with the more isolated immigrant communities. They help by providing input on messaging, building trust with the USCIS, and other engagement strategies.