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White House Announces Citizenship Campaign for Immigrants

If you're not already a U.S. citizen but are eligible to become one, President Obama wants to help you with the next step of your journey.

The "Stand Stronger" citizenship awareness campaign, an initiative launched by the White House in conjunction with Constitution Week from September 17–23, aims to help 8.8 million legal permanent residents break through whatever barriers they may face to becoming American citizens. The PSA launched on September 17, which is known as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day in honor of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on this date in 1787.

Many immigrants who are legal permanent residents struggle with the process, as it involves complicated paperwork, red tape and can also be very costly, even without hiring an attorney. Add in language barriers and it's no wonder so many hesitate at taking the next step after securing legal permanent residency.

Comprehensive immigration reform is also a hot-button issue for the 2016 election cycle, with numerous Republican candidates espousing building a wall as a solution to keep out unwanted immigrants. Donald Trump, in particular, has been aggressive and offensive with his anti-immigrant rhetoric in recent months. Chris Christie has said he wanted to track immigrants with FedEx-like technology, and even Jeb Bush has made offensive comments about Asian immigrants when he talked about "anchor babies" on the campaign trail. It's no wonder that immigrants often feel unwelcome or discriminated against.

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However, President Obama has often spoken publicly about the value of immigrants to our country.

"The true strength of a nation lies not in its might, but in the courage and conviction of its people," says Obama in a PSA. "Our hopes, our dreams, our boundless determination to set down roots and build a better life, not just ourselves but for our families, for our communities, for our children."

Better job opportunities and the right to vote are only two of the rights that Obama mentions in the video. More than 70 citizenship outreach activities are planned across the country during Constitution Week, and 200 ceremonies will naturalize more than 36,000 new citizens.

"It's not about changing who you are, it's about adding a new chapter to your journey as an American citizen, and to our journey as a nation of immigrants," Obama says in the PSA, which encourages individuals to apply for naturalization, as well as family members who can help individuals who are eligible to apply.

The committocitizenship.org site touts a "family first" attitude alongside knowing the benefits that citizenship can afford those who go through the process of naturalization. Especially with an upcoming election year, voting is the most important right for new citizens so that they may have their voices heard. The site also provides tools to determine eligibility and resources to apply for citizenship as well as to prepare for the exam and a locator to find nearby citizenship preparation classes.

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