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By Tessa W. McKenzie

Our commitment to supporting newcomers is personal and at CLINIC, we are inspired by friends who have overcome numerous obstacles to become naturalized US citizens.  Saba Hailu is one such friend, who journeyed from aspiring citizen to new American.  Saba’s determination strengthens our resolve to ensure that the foreign-born have access to opportunities for citizenship and civic participation.

Immigration is personal; it impacts all of us. That message resonated throughout the Cambia tu Vida launch. In immigration there is no “us” and “them.” As many speakers expressed: we are all in this together, we are here to help, and we are part of this community.

As we celebrate our country’s birthday and independence on the Fourth of July, many of us will contemplate what it means to be Americans. Being an American for the foreign-born goes beyond the ability to vote in elections or obtain a U.S. passport. Many immigrants already feel American at heart long before they take their first step to becoming naturalized U.S. citizens – a pre-requisite to vote and obtain a passport. Many of them have integrated into their communities long before – going to weekly church services, volunteering in their children’s schools, and paying their taxes.

The Midwest has a history as a gateway for immigrants even if not as heralded as port cities in the east and west. Think of Chicago with its diverse ethnic population as early as the late 1800’s, especially among Eastern Europeans, that continues today with the largest Bosnian refugee population in the country. Think also of Detroit, Motor City, at the turn of the last century when Ford Motor Company attracted immigrant workers from Southern Europe and the Middle East to build the earliest automobiles. Detroit now has the largest Middle Eastern population in the United States, most recently welcoming tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees.

Since its inception two hundred years ago, the story of the Archdiocese of New York is an immigrant story – a tradition which continues today. For more than 30 years, the Archdiocese of New York has provided services to the foreign-born, including refugee resettlement and immigration legal services, through Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS). As the immigrant and refugee population in the area has grown and changed, so has CCCS.

Each year on September 17, we come together as a nation of immigrants to celebrate Citizenship Day. This is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of being a U.S. citizen and recognize the many lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in our communities who are on their journey to becoming U.S. citizens.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Maura Moser, Director of Communications

(301) 565-4830 or Email: mmoser@cliniclegal.org

On February 4, 2014, USCIS released its long-awaited revision of the Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization). A draft of the new form was published in the Federal Register for comment on December 20, 2012 and again on March 20, 2013. CLINIC submitted comments on the draft together with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on February 15, 2013. The comments are posted on the CLINIC website at https://cliniclegal.org/resources/revisions-to-application-for-naturaliz....

CLINIC's National Capacity Building Project, funded by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Citizenship, has provided technical assistance and funding to four local affiliate agencies to establish new programs in English as a Second Language (ESL)/citizenship education and/or naturalization application assistance.

On Election Day, it can seem like a burden to wake up early and stand in line at your local polling place, but the ability to vote is a prized benefit of citizenship and an important step in the journey to full integration in the United States. The benefits of citizenship are numerous and the CLINIC network has long advocated naturalization for all eligible permanent residents.

CLINIC is working hard to bring new players into the immigration and naturalization service mix to supplement the substantial but inadequate resources that exist now.

Citizenship Day (September 17) is an opportunity to celebrate the importance of U.S. citizenship and to recognize the new Americans who once immigrated to the U.S. from all corners of the world.

June was an important month for a small group of Washington D.C.’s residents. On June 6, 2013, at a public library in Mt. Pleasant, 20 immigrants from 11 different countries became U.S. citizens.

On Saturday May 4, 2013, nearly 150 immigrants and their families from all over the world trekked to southern Los Angeles County and eagerly waited in line for their chance to take the crucial next step to becoming an American citizen. The huge Inglewood church quickly filled with the sounds of many languages, from Spanish to Vietnamese to Hindi, as volunteers and immigrant service providers smoothly filtered and ushered groups of eligible legal permanent residents through a step by step journey through the naturalization process.

With Citizenship Day on September 17th, I would like to reflect on my experience working with a national multi-organizational initiative to encourage the country's lawful permanent residents (LPR) to become U.S. citizens. In every facet of society, immigrants are integral members in the economy and the political discourse. With this in mind, CLINIC has pursued steps to reach the approximate 8 million LPRs who are eligible to become citizens.