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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 4, 2000
                         INDEPENDENCE DAY 2000

Today the President and the First Lady will celebrate Independence Day at the 6th International Naval Review in U.S. history from aboard the U.S.S. Hue City and officially commence the OpSail 2000 Parade of Sail aboard the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy in the New York Harbor. In recognition of the freedoms enjoyed by American citizens, the President will witness a naturalization ceremony led by Attorney General Janet Reno to swear in twenty new U.S. citizens from 14 different countries across the globe. Thousands of other individuals across the country will be sworn in as U.S. citizens this week. To help expand opportunities for new U.S. citizens and recent immigrants, the Clinton-Gore Administration will announce the award of $25.5 million to states for English language and civics instruction to help communities provide these important skills to limited English proficient individuals; the President will direct INS to develop a plan to redesign and standardize the citizenship testing process to guarantee consistency nationwide; and finally, the President will urge Congress to pass legislation that would provide humanitarian relief to American immigrant families.

AWARD $25.5 MILLION TO STATES FOR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE/CIVICS INITIATIVE. The Administration will announce the availability of $25.5 million to states for the English Language/Civics Initiative, an innovative way to help states and communities provide limited English proficient (LEP) individuals with access to high-quality English-language, civics, and life skills instruction. This initiative will offer LEP adults opportunities to master English literacy in order to further their education, obtain good jobs, and help build a stronger American community. The high demand for these programs has resulted in waiting lists of thousands of adults across the country looking for the chance to fully participate in American society. The Clinton-Gore Administration has proposed $75 million in FY 2001 to help an estimated 250,000 LEP adults access these critical opportunities - an increase of nearly $50 million from the FY 2000 enacted level.

ENSURE CONSISTENCY AND EFICIENCY IN THE CURRENT NATURALIZATON SYSTEM. Today, the President will direct the INS to develop a plan to redesign and standardize the current citizenship testing process and report back in 60 days with their proposal. Currently, different areas of the country use different tests or testing methods for reading and writing of the English language and U.S. history and government. This plan will help guarantee a consistent test and testing process is available and administered nationwide. From 1993 through 1999, 4.37 million individuals became new Americans; however, there continues to be backlog of applications. The INS is on track to meet its goal of reducing this backlog by completing1.3 million applications this fiscal year while maintaining the highest levels of quality and integrity.

PROVIDE FAIRNESS TO ALL IMMIGRANTS. The President will urge Congress to pass two pieces of legislation to correct injustices currently affecting many immigrants already in our country. The proposed Registry Date legislation would allow certain long-term immigrants of good moral character who have been living in the United States for a long time (fifteen years or more) to apply for legal resident status. The Central American and Haitian Parity Act of 1999 would amend the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) to provide certain nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti an opportunity to apply for adjustment of status under that Act. This parity provision would not only provide compassion and fairness for the affected immigrants, but also contribute to the development of stability and peace in these emerging democracies.