Skip to content
CityLab
Justice

The Heartland Wants More New Americans

Pushing citizenship is less fraught, politically speaking. Plus, it makes great economic sense.
A South Asian woman holds an American flag during a naturalization ceremony in Indianapolis.
A South Asian woman holds an American flag during a naturalization ceremony in Indianapolis.Michael Conroy/AP

In 2016, over 970,000 people applied for U.S. citizenship—the highest point point in two decades. That was 24 percent higher than 2015, and 9.2 percent more than 2012, when the last presidential election was held.

Partly, that surge was a result of heightened anxieties over the Trump administration’s immigration agenda. But it is also evidence for a very different force: a push for citizenship by city and local governments, especially those so-called heartland states.