Ethnic Media Roundtable Underscores Importance of Naturalization in 2016

Vanessa Sandoval of SIREN, Theodore Ko of Asian Law Alliance and John Kramar of USCIS spoke at the ethnic media roundtable in San Jose on Feb. 5

Vanessa Sandoval of SIREN, Theodore Ko of Asian Law Alliance and John Kramar of USCIS spoke at the ethnic media roundtable in San Jose on Feb. 5

On Feb. 5, the New Americans Campaign and New America Media hosted an ethnic media roundtable in San Jose to discuss naturalization for the Bay Area’s citizenship-eligible lawful permanent residents.

This roundtable took place as the San Jose New Americans Campaign plans a free mega citizenship workshop on Feb. 27.

Representatives from local Campaign partners Services Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN), Asian Law Alliance and New American Workforce spoke at the roundtable. There were also speakers from the City of San Jose’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.

Over 50 attendees, including journalists from 21 media outlets, attended the roundtable to discuss the role of ethnic media in amplifying the importance of citizenship and to hear personal stories from newly naturalized citizens.

John Kramar, local USCIS district director, says becoming a citizen is easier and faster than people think.

“After someone takes the citizenship test, they often say, ‘That wasn’t as bad as I thought,’” Kramar said. “There was a time in years past when you would file and it would take several years. We’re now averaging four to five months.”

That means that green card holders who apply for U.S. citizenship now could be able to register to vote in time for the 2016 elections.

Newly naturalized citizen Hoang Truong says becoming a citizen gave him “the key” to unlocking a better life.

“When we become a U.S. citizen,” he said, “we have the key – the key to the higher education door, the key to freedom, the key to vote.”

With the upcoming Presidential elections, immigrant rights organizations are encouraging those who are eligible to apply for citizenship now.

“Naturalization empowers people,” said Vanessa Sandoval, immigration legal services program director of SIREN. “They become engaged. They have a voice.”

For more on the roundtable see coverage on New America Media.

Posted on February 16, 2016

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