Becoming a US citizen brings multiple benefits to an immigrant and their community. US citizens can vote, travel freely outside of the country without restrictions and be protected from policies that target non citizens. Citizenship grants permanent protection from deportation, exclusive access to certain political positions and government jobs, and greater access to government benefits such as supplemental social security, health care, and general assistance.
However, regardless of the many benefits that citizenship has to offer, the immigrant community is not taking advantage of the opportunity to apply. In Santa Clara County approximately 190,000 immigrants are eligible for naturalization, yet in 2012 only 11,473 actually naturalized. While low naturalization rates plague all immigrants, Mexican immigrants have comparatively lower rates of naturalization at 36% compared to 68% for all non-Mexican immigrants. In 2011, more than a third (3.5 million) of un-naturalized immigrants were from Mexico.
So why is 2014 the year for citizenship??
SIREN, in partnership with the New Americans Campaign (NAC), is leading an effort to make citizenship and its benefits accessible to all immigrants. NAC-Silicon Valley prides itself in offering quality low cost and high quality citizenship services to our diverse immigrant community –ranging from legal expertise and assistance, civic test preparation and help with fee-waivers.
Through collaborative and innovative efforts in 2013, NAC helped naturalize 1,552 immigrants and has saved applicants $535,160 in naturalization fees by assisting them with a fee waiver.
Take advantage of this great opportunity now!
Creating accessibility toward citizenship is a continuous effort. SIREN and NAC will host free naturalizations workshops throughout 2014. If you are interested in participating or volunteering at citizenship event, please contact our hotline: 408-453-3017 (Spanish/English) or 408-453-3013 (Vietnamese/English)
This post was written by Patricia Diaz