I have a very hazy memory of my parents becoming United States citizens since it happened when I was pretty young. What is easy to recall is the feeling that it was something big and that they worked hard towards accomplishing. My mother recounted the nerve wrecking experience of preparing and taking her citizenship test.
I don’t know if anyone helped my parents navigate that path but I do remember their oath ceremonies where as big a deal as school graduations and they took days off work to attend. Afterward they both beamed with satisfaction and pride–perhaps a sense of relief. And once they had this social capital they paid it forward, I often heard my mom pointing friends–that like her were also immigrants–toward resources and offering much needed encouragement on obtaining their ciudadanía.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website in the last decade 6.8 million individuals became U.S. citizens. With over 800,000 new citizens in 2000 that number dropped by almost half by 2003 and didn’t see a significant increase until 2008 at over one million. That is an average of 680,000 new U.S. citizens per year that gain the ability to fully participate in the country they now call home and that can begin flexing their voting muscle. It was my parents who modeled this civic duty and by the time I turned 18 I understood the value of registering and showing up to vote on election day.
So when Maria León, Latina Leadership Coordinator at Mujeres Latinas en Acción recently told me about an opportunity to train to assist legal permanent residents fill out their applications for citizenship I didn’t have to think too much about it–its definitely something I want to do.
Below is information on the training workshop and dates that the citizenship workshops will take place in 2012.
When: Wednesday, January 18th from 6pm to 9pm
Where: Instituto del Progreso Latino, 2520 S. Western Ave.
If you are interested in participating contact Maria Leon at Maria3@mujereslat.org
MONTHLY CITIZENSHIP WORKSHOPS
All workshops take place Saturdays from 9 am – 1 pm but volunteers usually stay until 2 pm if the turnout is great.
January 21 @ Daley College, 7500 South Pulaski
February 25 @ Benito Juarez High School, 1450-1510 W. Cermak Road (Parking is on 21st and Loomis)
March 10 @ Benito Juarez High School, 1450-1510 W. Cermak Road (Parking is on 21st and Loomis)
March 24 @ Location TBD
May 12 @ Location TBD
June 23 @ Location TBD
And as Maria says, “In the spirit of giving back: feel free to spread the word.”
This project is supported by the Local Reporting Awards, The Chicago Community Trust , Community News Matter initiative. Get the full scoop on The Reportera Series here.