Published April 10, 2008
Last year, 14 AILA chapters held “citizenship drives” at 27 different locations around the country. More than 350 attorneys and 500 non-attorney volunteers assisted 1,700 clients with their citizenship applications.
Event chairperson Elizabeth L.A. Garvish, stated, “This event highlights one of the most important events in an immigrant’s life—becoming a U.S. citizen. Attorneys and volunteers from across the country will come together on one day to demonstrate the importance of being a U.S. citizen and assist others on their road to naturalization.”
Lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders) may apply for U.S. citizenship. Citizenship confers the right to vote, bear a U.S. passport, petition for relatives abroad, and obtain public benefits. Recent developments and initiatives regarding immigration issues, including a dramatic increase in the filing fees for naturalization cases, among others, and the increased difficulty of the required testing for naturalization applicants, have resulted in an even greater surge of lawful permanent residents seeking citizenship as they become eligible to do so. Each year, hundreds of thousands of immigrants, from all corners of the globe, embrace the ideals of freedom and democracy and become United States citizens. Statistics show that over 700,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens during fiscal year 2006 alone, and about 4.5 million individuals have naturalized since the year 2000.
To apply for citizenship, a person must be at least 18 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for five years, or for three years if married to a U.S. citizen. In addition, applicants must demonstrate that they can read, write, and speak in English, have paid income taxes, pass a civics test, and take the oath of allegiance to the United States.
The workshop in Smyrna will take place at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, located at 4300 King Springs Road, SE. In Gainesville, the workshop will take place at the Gainesville Community Service Center at 430 Prior St. SE. To register, call (770) 534-3337. Other locations include the Latin American Association, located at 2750 Buford Highway, Atlanta; Mount Pisgah Church, located at 2850 Old Alabama Road, Alpharetta; and in Doraville at the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS), 3760 Park Avenue. The times for all locations except Doraville are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. At the Doraville location, the workshop will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.
For more information in English and in Spanish about Citizenship Day, go to the Catholic Charities Web site at www.catholiccharitiesatlanta.org/events/citizenshipday.htm.