SEATTLE — The City of Seattle announced on Sept. 10 that it has secured a partnership with Lyft, Uber, and local immigrant-serving nonprofits to help naturalization applicants overcome a recent Trump-era obstacle to citizenship. This new partnership will provide an estimated 400 Seattle community members with free transportation to their naturalization interviews.
In June of this year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that Seattle-area immigrants applying for citizenship would have to travel hours away to offices in Yakima, Wash., and Portland, Ore., for their naturalization interviews, and even oath ceremonies. Previously, applicants could participate in these steps at the USCIS Seattle Field Office in Tukwila.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, the City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), and other immigrant activists feared that this new federal hurdle would impose an undue burden on people seeking to become American citizens, especially people who are differently abled and elderly immigrants.
“Redirecting citizenship applicants to offices over three hours away appears to be yet another brick in the ‘Second Wall’ of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda—for low-income applicants without their own reliable transportation, and for the organizations that typically accompany them to interviews,” said OIRA Director Cuc Vu, herself a naturalized citizen.
To assist eligible green card holders who lack the resources to travel several hours away for their interviews, Lyft and Uber are each donating $10,000 to support:
- The purchase of train or bus tickets for immigrant applicants, or
- To subsidize mileage costs for applicants, or
- For community-based organization staff accompanying applicants to interviews.
Lyft and Uber are also each providing 700 unique $10 ride codes, which can be used for rides to and from the bus or train station in Seattle and between the station and the USCIS office in Portland and Yakima. OIRA is distributing these funds through 20 existing community-based partners in the New Citizen Campaign and New Citizen Program. Both services focus on helping vulnerable Seattle area residents become U.S. citizens.