Founded in 2010 and active in eleven U.S. states, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) describes itself as “a national multiethnic, multiracial partnership that harnesses our collective power and resources to mobilize millions of immigrants for integration and transformative social change.” Its mission is to “help immigrants become active and engaged citizens” working for “a stronger and more inclusive democracy.” Toward that end, the Partnership seeks to “leverage funding from government, business, and private entities,” with an eye toward implementing “policy change” that will empower “new Americans” to “vote, hold office, and participate fully in civic life and economic prosperity.”
A high priority of NPNA is its Immigrant Integration project, which aims to help newcomers to the U.S. to “function and participate fully in their societies and communities,” while maximizing their “access to mainstream institutions.” NPNA’s signature event, its yearly National Immigrant Integration Conference, emphasizes the importance of making immigrant integration “a policy priority on the local, state, and national level[s].” In 2012, a keynote speaker at this conference was NAACP president Ben Jealous.
Also in 2012, NPNA launched its Become a Citizen Now! program, designed to train more than 1,000 “citizenship coaches” to help legal permanent residents in the U.S. become naturalized. The Partnership’s collective goal for 2012 was to naturalize 3,650 new citizens, assist approximately 13,000 legal permanent residents with various matters, and contact some 73,000 people via outreach efforts.
In January 2013, NPNA applauded President Barack Obama for “his leadership in unveiling a comprehensive immigration reform plan that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people who, like millions of other immigrants, are vital contributors to the social, economic, civic, and cultural life of the United States.” NPNA was “especially encouraged by the President’s emphasis on immigrant contributions to the economy and the immediate need to bring a shadow economy into the light.”
In April 2013, NPNA called on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to reduce the costs associated with becoming an American citizen, “especially for the working poor.” Asserting that “high naturalization fees should not keep future Americans from attaining their dream of becoming full participants in our democracy,” the Partnership lamented that when the citizenship fee had risen from $225 in 1999 to $680 in 2008, there were dramatic reductions in the number of Mexican immigrants and people without high-school diplomas who became naturalized.
President Obama helped promote NPNA’s agendas in November 2014 when he issued an executive order creating the White House Task Force on New Americans, which drafted “A Federal Strategic Action Plan on Immigrant & Refugee Integration.” According to WCBM Radio contributor Sue Payne, the objective of this Task Force was to normalize the status of illegal immigrants as quickly as possible, and to nurture them—with cash, medical care, and other publicly funded benefits—as “seedlings” that could eventually blossom into agents of a racially and ethnically transformed society. This campaign was led by Welcoming America, and its other original national partners included the Cisneros Center for New Americans, IMPRINT, NALEO, the National Council of La Raza, the National Skills Coalition, the Partnership for a New American Economy, the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, World Education Services, and the YMCA of the USA.
Among NPNA’s 12 partner organizations are Casa de Maryland, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and OneAmerica.