Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett joined nonprofit leaders on Tuesday in Silver Spring to announce the county was joining a national effort to encourage residents who are immigrants to go through the citizenship naturalization process.
The county joined Cities for Citizenship, an initiative founded by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti that aims to increase citizenship among eligible U.S. residents by investing in education programs.
Leggett said Tuesday that citizenship provides the best path for stability for the county’s long-term immigrant residents. He said there are about 60,000 county residents who would be eligible for citizenship.
“We’re trying to encourage them to come forward,” Leggett said. “We believe that in order to have the stability you want, citizenship is the best path.”
Leggett said county residents in the country illegally should not be afraid to seek out assistance to help with the citizenship process, despite President Donald Trump’s nationwide effort to crack down on illegal immigration.
“I think this is the perfect antidote to that,” Leggett said. “Becoming a citizen—being able to vote, to express your views—helps you overcome those fears. People are fearful, but they’re fearful because they don’t know the process and they need to be reassured that our local government and all these nonprofit agencies are working to assist them.”