Knight Foundation supports the New Americans Campaign, a non-partisan national coalition working to modernize and streamline access to naturalization services. The following guest blog post is written by Eric Cohen, executive director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
Early this past Saturday, hundreds of immigrants and their families from all over the world trekked to South Los Angeles and eagerly waited in line for their chance to take the crucial next step to becoming an American citizen. The huge Inglewood church quickly filled with the sounds of many languages, from Vietnamese to Hindi to Spanish, as volunteers and immigrant service providers smoothly filtered and ushered groups of eligible legal permanent residents through a step by step journey through the naturalization process.
Many of the attending immigrants had been eligible for citizenship for years, but were intimidated by the confusing paperwork, the long struggle to navigate the inefficient system and the expensive $680 application fee.
“I’ve had to wait for so many years to finally apply, but today all of these really helpful people made it much easier than I thought it would be,” said Mr. Mohamedali, a Sudanese immigrant who came to the U.S. to complete his master’s degree at UCLA. “I wish more people would come see this and take this step… and it makes me want to become a volunteer after I’m done.” Mohamedali has lived in California for 24 years and confidently states, “I want to stay in this country for the rest of my life.”
The Super Mega Workshop was hosted by dozens of partner members of the national New Americans Campaign. The workshop is just one example of how the New Americans Campaign is transforming the way aspiring citizens navigate the path to becoming new Americans.