The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, unveiled his new NaturalizeNY agenda at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan this afternoon, and claimed the package of joint public-private initiatives would lubricate the process of becoming a full-fledged American for as many as one million green card-holders across the state. NaturalizeNY will offer eligibility screenings, preparatory courses for the citizenship exam,help completing forms and run a lottery that would pay the $680 federal fee for 2,000 randomly chosen lower-middle-income immigrants.
“Just think about that. Just think about how it would change the state. Change the complexion of the state. One million people added to the 18 million people who are now citizens in the state of New York,” the governor said, alluding to the state’s long history as the entryway to America for new arrivals from foreign lands. “Maybe the complexion changes. Maybe the religion changes. Maybe the accent changes. But the lesson stays the same. Welcome to this beautiful state of New York.”
The governor insisted that access to the voting booth is an integral benefit of citizenship, and suggested conservative lawmakers have deliberately inserted unnecessary hurdles into the process.
“You add one million citizens to the voting rolls in this state, that’s a significant, significant difference. You do that nationwide, it’s a significant difference,” he said. “So if you have your conspiracy hat on, you’d say some people would say they have kept it purposely difficult to become a citizen.”
The Democratic governor, an avid support of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, also took time to again lash out at the nativism of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. He did not mention the businessman, a fellow Queens native, by name but did allude to his signature proposal to construct a massive barrier along the Mexican border.
“We know you can’t build walls between us. That is not an option,” he said. “You don’t build walls, you build bridges between people.”
Oddly, Trump has donated some $64,000 to Cuomo’s various campaigns for public office, which the governor has declined to return. The real estate developer also teased that he might challenge the governor in his 2014 re-election campaign, but decided against it.
As of the 2010 census, non-Hispanic whites made up roughly 58 percent of the state’s population, with blacks composing 16 percent, Asians 7 percent and Latinos almost 18 percent.