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Thursday, September 17, 2020

波士頓市聯手33城市反對申請入籍公民漲價

          (Boston Orange編譯)波士頓市長馬丁華殊(Martin Walsh)(17)日宣佈,波士頓市和全美各地33個城市,鄉郡,以及美國市長協會(USCM),都會計劃會(MAPC)一起,向法院遞交一份支持公民計畫(Project Citizenship Inc.)的友情說明(amicus brief),反對國土安全局漲價,要求法院禁止這做法生效。

        Ropes & Gray律師樓於817日義務代表公民計畫向麻州美國地區法院遞案,控訴美國國土安全局妨礙人們成為綠卡持有者,或合法的永久居民成為公民等等規定。

        美國公民及移民服務署(USCIS)的漲價計畫預定102日起生效,申請入籍的費用,幾乎漲了一倍,從725元漲到1200元,低收入居豁免繳費的做法也取消了,申請永久居民(綠卡)的費用也漲了,連申請政治庇護也要收費了。這使美國成為這麼做的四個國家之一。

          馬丁華殊今日下午在市政府大樓前做疫情匯報時表示,這些費用漲價,違反了美國建國的基本價值觀。不論是400年前,還是昨天,人們來到美國是為自己及家庭追求更好的生活。漲價的新規定猶如打造了一個成為美國人的富裕測驗,而且公民資格必須保留給那些能負擔得起費用的人。

           在美國,約有900萬人有資格申請成為公民,在波士頓地區,約有3萬人。波士頓市表示,從馬丁華殊市長上任的第一天,市府就在入籍援助上給予支持。每年的917日,波士頓市府還都和公民項目一起慶祝憲法日,舉辦新英格蘭內規模最大的公民講座,安排400多名社區志工,法律系學生,以及義務律師來免費幫助數以百計的人申請入籍公民。迄今他們以幫助1815人成為公民,而起單只是去年,就有59%的申請符合低收入的免費資格。

           聯名遞交支持信的33個城市中,有8個城市在麻州,包括波士頓市,劍橋市,雀喜市(chelsea),羅倫斯市(Lawrence),林市(Lynn),摩頓市(Malden),梅爾羅斯市(Melrose),牛頓市(Newton)。支持函全文可見於https://www.boston.gov/sites/default/files/file/2020/09/amicus-motion-sept2020.pdf

 

CITY OF BOSTON MARKS U.S. CONSTITUTION AND CITIZENSHIP DAY BY LEADING AMICUS BRIEF AGAINST USCIS FEE INCREASES 

Cities urge court to block application fee increases for naturalization

BOSTON - Thursday, September 17, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh is marking U.S. Constitution and Citizenship Day this year by announcing the City of Boston together with 33 American cities and counties and with the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), submitted an amicus brief in the Project Citizenship lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The lawsuit follows a new United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy that would make it more expensive for U.S. residents to apply for naturalization as well as other statuses and benefits. 

Starting on October 2, USCIS is nearly doubling the cost of applying for naturalization from $725 to $1,200 and eliminating the fee waiver for almost all low-income residents. USCIS is also increasing the permanent residence (green card) application fee and implementing an asylum application fee, making the United States one of four countries to do so. 

The City of Boston is asking the federal court to stop this new rule from going into effect.

"These fee increases go against the values America was founded on," said Mayor Walsh. "People come to the U.S. for a better life for themselves and their families, whether that's 400 years ago or yesterday. This new rule creates a wealth test to be an American, and citizenship must not be reserved for those who can afford it."

There are about nine million people in the U.S. eligible for citizenship, more than 30,000 of them are in Boston. The City has invested in naturalization assistance since the Mayor's first year in office in 2014. Every year, Boston celebrates Constitution Day on September 17 by partnering with Project Citizenship to host the largest annual citizenship workshop in New England, when more than 400 community volunteers, law students and pro bono attorneys help hundreds of people with their citizenship application for free. To date, the City has helped 1,815 become citizens, and last year alone 59% of applicants qualified for the low-income fee waiver. 

The amicus brief highlights how local governments have invested in supporting the naturalization process, how naturalized citizens benefit from the support, and how naturalization increases the civic and economic health and resilience of local communities for all residents. The brief argues these fee increases send a message to low-income lawful permanent residents that full civic participation is only reserved for those who can afford it.

"Being American is not about how much money you have or the color of your skin," said the Mayor. "Being American is about making a commitment to this country, to choosing a life in our communities and enjoying the rights and liberties promised in the Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution."

The amicus brief was submitted by the City of Boston, together with Albuquerque, NM; Austin, TX; Boise, ID; Brownsville, TX; Cambridge, MA; Carson, CA; Chelsea, MA; Chicago, IL; Cook County, IL; Davis, CA; Dayton, OH; Denver, CO; Lawrence, MA; Long Beach, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles County, CA; Lynn, MA; Malden, MA; McAllen, TX; Melrose, MA; Metropolitan Area Planning Council, MA; Minneapolis, MN; Montgomery County, MD; New York, NY; Newton, MA; Oakland, CA; Palm Springs, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Saint Paul, MN; Seattle, WA; Somerville, MA; Stamford, CT; Tacoma, WA; and the US Conference of Mayors. To read the amicus brief, visit here.       

The City of Boston also signed onto two similar amicus briefs linked  here and here. (From City of Boston)


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