Dallas Ethnic Media Roundtable: Citizenship – A life changing experience

For many aspiring Americans, citizenship means the world to them.

At our recent Dallas Roundtable, two recently naturalized citizens came together to share how citizenship changed their lives in many inspirational ways…

For Hortencia Ortega, citizenship means the opportunity to reunite with her family.

Eight years ago, Ortega left San Luis Potosi, Mexico in search of work to support her three children back home. She worked countless odd jobs and was unable to visit her own family for numerous years. She married an American and, with the help of Proyecto Inmigrante, a NAC partner, she became a citizen.

Ortega is now petitioning for her children. “My citizenship has not only given me work stability and financial freedom, but also the opportunity to [be reunited] with my family,” she said.


For Mario Vargas, citizenship means the opportunity for a brighter future.

Vargas, a 23-year-old political science student, became a citizen to pursue an important internship with a government agency. “I was told that they would accept me if I became a U.S. citizen,” said Vargas at the roundtable.

With the help of Proyecto Inmigrante, he successfully passed his citizenship interview and was very lucky to attend naturalization ceremony on the same day. As promised, Vargas successfully got accepted to an intern position with the government agency.

During the discussion, immigrant rights advocates highlighted the multiple benefits of obtaining citizenship: the right to vote and to work for the government, protection from deportation, the right to travel and live abroad without losing U.S. residency, and petition children and immediate family members.

Citizenship has brought positive changes for Ortega and Vargas.

Yet, there are millions of eligible aspiring Americans like them who have nowhere to turn for citizenship help. This is what we thrive to improve. “We’re here to help complete your N-400 [new] application [form]. We have immigration attorneys and representatives to review your applications,” said Luis Arango-Petrocchi, project manager for the citizenship program at Catholic Charities of Dallas.

“Citizenship is a life-changing experience,” he added.


Get the full story on New America Media.

Posted on August 19, 2014

Our Impact

  • The Campaign has completed over 3,700 naturalization workshops and clinics.
  • Over 250,000 citizenship applications completed since July 2011.

    Saved aspiring citizens and their families over $206million in legal and application fees.
  • Adopted scalable technology. MP3 players, Google Voice, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services are being used to enhance naturalization service delivery.
  • Expanded New American Workforce (an effort to provide naturalization assistance within corporations) which has partnered with over 100 businesses across the nation, ranging from hotels in Miami to American Apparel in Los Angeles.
  • Deployed Citizenshipworks, an online tool, across the Campaign in multiple settings and languages. A newly redesigned platform guides applicants through through their citizenship application from start to finish and connects applicants to legal help at partnering non-profits.
  • Were instrumental in inspiring the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to support the Citizenship Corners initiative.
  • Created innovative partnerships with public libraries, school districts, universities, social service agencies, and employers, all of which yield not only greater numbers of applicants but also greater awareness of the naturalization process.
  • Deployed a large-scale volunteer recruitment program through an e-learning course.

    Reached diverse communities. Local partners consistently outreach and provide culturally competent and language-appropriate services.
Learn more from our
Impact Report.

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Who We're Helping

People come to America from all over the world with dreams of achieving a better life for themselves and their families and calling this great nation home. Eight million people who live, work, and pay taxes in this country are eligible for citizenship, yet only about eight percent of them naturalize each year. Find out more about these individuals and the barriers they face.Read More