Have a Voice through Citizenship

Maria Rendon never thought about becoming a U.S. citizen. As a lawful permanent resident (LPR) from Mexico, she’s proud of her heritage.

“I’m proud of my origin and my accent,” says Maria. “America became my home, but I still wasn’t ready to become a citizen. I also didn’t think it would be very easy.”

Maria moved to the U.S. in 1985 when she was barely 20-years-old. She didn’t speak a word of English.

She worked in a laundromat during the day and went to school at night, earning her General Education Development (GED) degree.

She later took college courses in finance and accounting.

It wasn’t until 2008, when Maria’s mother naturalized at the age of 77, that she began thinking about citizenship for herself.

“I thought, ‘if she can do it, what’s going to stop me?’” Maria says.

Maria started to seriously consider applying for citizenship once her mother and husband naturalized. The upcoming presidential election also motivated her to take the next step.

She sought the help of the East Bay Naturalization Collaborative, a New Americans Campaign partner, who assisted Maria with the application and test preparation.

Maria became a new U.S. citizen in June.

“I’ve lived in this country for a long time. I’ve built a life, work, and my family is here,” says Maria. “I haven’t traveled to Mexico in ten years, and I don’t think I will ever go back to live there. This is my home. I wanted to have a voice. I wanted to be heard. Why not?”

She thinks more LPRs should pursue citizenship. Her advice?

“Don’t let anything, like not knowing English fluently, hold you back,” says Maria. “Don’t be scared, go for it, it’s easy! We are part of this society, we can be a part in the best possible way if we become citizens.”

Posted on September 30, 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