February 24, 2012 (San Diego) -- This Saturday, the San Diego Naturalization Collaborative will host a free Citizenship Application Workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at San Diego City College Learning Resource Center, 1313 Park Blvd. in San Diego.
This newly formed coalition has launched the You Are America campaign to raise awareness about the importance of becoming a U.S. citizen and to help residents navigate the citizenship process locally.
The coalition includes six major non-profit legal service providers in the county who are working together in an unprecedented manner to significantly increase the number of citizenship applications in the county.
"There are an estimated 150,000 residents in the county who are eligible for citizenship, yet less than 10% of them apply every year," says Bob Moser of Catholic Charities, one of the SDNC coalition members. "Through the You Are America campaign we hope to dramatically increase the number of applications."
"Some of the reasons people do not apply are because they do not know how and do not have the resources to pay for legal assistance," stated Miko Tokuhama-Olsen of Legal Aid Society of San Diego, another SDNC coalition member. "We hope to address that by offering free legal assistance at workshops beginning this weekend."
The You Are America campaign is coordinated by the Equality Alliance, a community organization that hosts the SDNC.
"We are thrilled to be working with legal service providers and other community partners such as the community colleges to encourage eligible immigrants to become citizens so they can fully participate in our democracy," says Andrea Guerrero of the Equality Alliance. "Now is a great time to become a citizen: if you apply by July, there's a good chance you will become a citizen in time to register to vote in the November election," noted Guerrero.
Immigrants are eligible for citizenship if they are over 18 years old, have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for at least five years, and meet other requirements listed on the www.youareamerica.org site.
The campaign will conduct at least four workshops in 2012, the first of which will be held on Saturday, February 25th at San Diego City College. Participants will receive free assistance with filling out their application and will only need to pay for the application fee of $680 to process applications. Individuals receiving means-tested benefits may be eligible for a fee waiver.
For a full list of documents to bring to the workshop to complete an application, visit www.YouAreAmerica.org.
Downloadable flyers are available in English and Spanish.
The San Diego Naturalization Collaborative was formed in September of 2011 to help permanent residents apply for citizenship. SDNC consists of six legal service providers and one community-based organization serving as a coordinator for the coalition. The coalition members are: Catholic Charities (Diocese of San Diego), Employee Rights Center, Equality Alliance of San Diego, International Rescue Committee, Jewish Family Services of San Diego County, Legal Aid Society of San Diego, and the Unitarian Universalists Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education (UURISE). For more information please visit www.YouAreAmerica.org.