New Collaborative Gives Free Citizenship Clinic
Clinic marks launch of new collaborative to increase naturalization rates in Greater Boston
BOSTON â€” On Saturday, September 17, 2011, dozens of specially trained volunteers will help qualified immigrants fill out and submit all the paperwork required so they can become United States citizens. Held on official Constitution Day and Citizenship Day (to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787), the clinic marks the public launch of Citizenship Works, a new collaborative of eight organizations seeking to increase naturalization rates in Greater Boston.
As can be seen in figures compiled by the Migration Policy Institute, the numbers of immigrants in this country who become naturalized each year has grown substantially, more than doubling since the mid-1990s. Even so, according to the Department of Homeland Security, well over 60 percent of those eligible for naturalization have not become citizens, often due to language, cultural and income barriers.
With nearly one million foreign-born residents, Massachusetts has the seventh largest immigrant population in the nation â€” one remarkably rich in ethnic and economic diversity. Almost half of these newcomers are already naturalized, an increase of 35% in the past decade, and the proportion of eligible immigrants who have become naturalized is higher than in the rest of the nation.
Still, the partners in Citizenship Works have much work to do. In 2009, the Bay State was home to 310,000 Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs). About 55 percent of these "green-card" holders, or 170,000 people, were eligible to become citizens.
"Our objective is to increase the number of eligible immigrants and refugees that are informed about the benefits of citizenship," said Juan R. Vega, President and CEO of Centro Latino, a partner in the Citizenship Works collaborative. "But as important is helping them learn how to go through the process. The question is often about finding the way, not the will. That's why this new collaborative is so important."
Led by the Fish Family Foundation and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Citizenship Works will hold similar events throughout the year. The ultimate goal is to help the Commonwealth's foreign-born residents become full civic participants in society, exercising their rights and responsibilities as equal partners in America's great democratic experiment. The community-based organizations in Citizenship Works are Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Centro Latino, College Bound Dorchester, Irish International Immigrant Center, Jewish Vocational Services, and Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers.
WHO: Dozens of volunteers helping hundreds of legal permanent residents apply for citizenship
WHERE: Irish International Immigrant Center
100 Franklin Street
WHEN: 11 a.m. â€” 2 p.m., Saturday, September 17, 2011
For registration and prescreening, please contact one of the following partners:
- Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Inc, Fred Bennett - (617) 635-5129
- Centro Latino, Daisy Gonzalez - (617) 884-3238
- College Bound Dorchester, Mila Monteiro - (617) 506-5964
- Irish International Immigrant Center, John Rattigan - (617) 542-7654
- Jewish Vocational Services,Adam Cutler - (617) 399-3260
- Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers.Junior Catao - (617) 864-7600
What attendees need to bring to Citizenship Day on September 17, 2011:
- Green card
- Social Security Card (optional)
- Two passport photos
- Money order in the amount of $680.00**
- ** Certain low income LPRs may qualify for fee waivers. Inquire when you call to register
- Dates of all trips abroad since obtaining a green card
- List of your addresses for the past five (5) years
- List of your employment for the past five (5) years