News

Helping Ease the Path to Citizenship

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CWA, CASA de Maryland and the AFL-CIO kicked off a program to help green card holders begin to navigate the arduous road to becoming American citizens.

Below: A total of 58 citizenship applicants, 37 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal applications and 12 new DACA applications were completed.

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For four hours on Saturday, volunteers helped scores of people who showed up fill out American citizenship applications and prepare them for the citizenship process as well as immigrant youth applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Dreamers applying for DACA renewal. At the end, a total of 58 citizenship applicants, 37 DACA renewal applicants and 12 new DACA applications were completed.

The program's goal is to get as many as 30 union locals to open their union halls for immigration fairs to help 1,000 immigrants become American citizens. Partnering with National Partnership for New Americans and the AFL-CIO, CWA and allies plan to hold immigration fairs like this one across the nation to help immigrants navigate the often difficult road to citizenship.

Maryland resident Karla Rosales, who came with her mother, was there to renew her DACA application, for instance.

"This type of help is exactly what we need," she said. "I needed to renew my DACA and this service is great. The deadline is approaching for Dreamers to renew their DACA."

There are 9 million green card holders eligible for citizenship. The complicated citizenship application process, which often requires a lawyer and a $680 fee, are obstacles which these fairs are meant to overcome.

"I want to become a U.S. Citizen because I want to vote and to help the Latino community and be able to change things for the better. It is great that we have people helping us in Spanish. Everyone has been very helpful. I hope that there are more events like this one in the future," Juan Gonzales Perez of Maryland said.

The fair is a joint effort of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the AFL-CIO, CASA de Maryland, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Metropolitan Washington [D.C.] Council, Northern Virginia Area Labor Federation and local unions, from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Ironworkers, Laborers (LIUNA) and Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).

If your local is interested in hosting an immigration fair, please contact CWA Senior Director Yvette Herrera at yherrera@cwa-union.org.