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Citizenship: A New Strategy for Financial Inclusion and Inclusive Economic Growth

Bob Annibale is being honored as a Promoting Citizenship in the Workplace Champion of Change.

Bob Annibale

Bob Annibale is being honored as a Promoting Citizenship in the Workplace Champion of Change.

At Citi, we are focused on innovative and practical solutions to ensure that communities have access to resources and opportunities that enable them to achieve their potential and to climb up the economic ladder. Immigrants are, historically and increasingly, a dynamic part of our neighborhoods, and their financial success is directly tied to our nation’s economic growth. That is why Citi joined the mayors of Chicago, Los Angeles. and New York, as well as The Center for Popular Democracy and The National Partnership for New Americans, as the founding corporate partner of Cities for Citizenship.

Cities for Citizenship is a major national initiative that recognizes the contribution of immigrants and how citizenship can serve as an economic asset. It aims to increase citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents, as well as encourage cities across the country to invest in citizenship and financial capability programs.

On behalf of Citi, I am honored to be named as a Champion of Change by the White House. But I must share this recognition with all of my coworkers at Citi and with our partners who have provided critical national leadership, especially Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Our shared goal is to increase access to legal and financial services and contribute to enabling more inclusive cities across the country. Through this program, cities and their community partners will deliver financial counseling, legal support, application guidance, naturalization test preparation, and other assistance to eligible immigrants.

This initiative and partnership will enable immigrants to build a valuable financial identity as they also pursue a national identity. This is critical since the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation reports that about 20 percent of foreign-born households have never had a bank account, which has driven immigrants to use alternative financial services that often come with higher costs and risks. Instead, Cities for Citizenship aims to build a stronger foundation for the American Dream.

Moreover, it is a strategy that makes good economic sense.

There are approximately 8.8 million legal permanent residents in America who are eligible for citizenship. These are documented residents who pay taxes and work lawfully. Yet, 52 percent of them remain low-income. Their naturalization would provide access to better-paying jobs, academic scholarships, and other benefits. It would also provide billions of dollars in stimulus to the national economy over the next few years.

This would mean up to $1.6 billion for Chicago’s economy, $2.8 billion for the Los Angeles economy, and a $4.1 billion boost for New York City’s economy, according to the report “Citizenship: A Wise Investment for Cities.”

Cities for Citizenship considers citizenship and immigrant integration as powerful platforms to promote widespread financial inclusion and truly inclusive economic growth. We are excited to work with more municipalities on this project and share the collective efforts of our partners with The White House.

Bob Annibale is the Global Director of Citi Community Development, which leads Citi's initiatives and partnerships supporting inclusive finance.