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Citizenship: It Changes Your Life

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By Rommel Calderwood

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.

As part of this collaborative,  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help with the planning and implementation of CLINIC's first professional multimedia campaign known as La Ciudadanía: Cambia Tu Vida (Citizenship: It Changes Your Life).   The initiative, in partnership with Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, strives to motivate the 1.2 million legal permanent residents in Los Angeles to become U.S. citizens through an eclectic package of television, radio, and print public service announcements (PSA).  

Cardinal Roger Mahony and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles lent their voices to this one-of-a-kind Catholic call for citizenship through multimedia PSAs.  All campaign materials were designed with Los Angeles' large and diverse Latino population in mind and appear in Spanish.

As a naturalized U.S. citizen, I have a vested interest in ensuring the success of this campaign.  During the planning of the campaign, I collaborated closely with multiple immigrant-serving organizations, notably Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, NALEO Educational Fund, and Asian Pacific American Legal Center.  Catholic Charities, in partnership with NALEO, held a naturalization workshop on April 28, 2012 at Our Lady of the Rosary of Talpa in Los Angeles.  Over 350 men and women seeking naturalization services were assisted.   Taking place accross the country, workshop efforts like this are inspiring.  Through naturalization workshops and other shared initiatives, members of the collaborative and I strive to facilitate immigrant integration. 

This collaborative effort has provided the impetus and essential funds to direct service providers to help hundreds of potentially eligible LPRs and their families to become Americans.  As a country of immigrants, it's important to recognize the importance of citizenship and help eligible immigrants  attain the important milestone of becoming a U.S. citizens.  

*Rommel is the Project Coordinator for the New Americans Collaboration