From LPR to First Time Voter: The Benefits of Citizenship During an Election Year

This last Tuesday, millions of Americans participated in one of our most important civic duties – voting. Among those millions, thousands of newly naturalized citizens cast their first ballot as Americans. For the 8.8 million permanent residents living in the United States, the act of voting serves as a benefit of citizenship but one that doesn’t become a reality until citizenship is achieved.

For two new Americans, Election Day 2014 served as an important moment.

Ruby selects her candidates as she votes for the first time.

Ruby selects her candidates as she votes for the first time.

“I decided about a year ago to become a citizen,” says Ruby Romero. “I feel very much a part of this culture. It’s exciting to finally become a citizen!”

Ruby left El Salvador at the age of 10. 30 years later, she was still living in the United States as a permanent resident. For Ruby, a green card just wasn’t enough. Citizenship meant being a part of the country and belonging somewhere. She became a citizen in the fall of 2014 so that she could vote in the November elections.

“It’s important to have a say and it feels good to be able to do that finally because I’ve never been able to have any kind of opinion,” she says.

These are sentiments shared by fellow new American, Teresa Pedrizco, who applied for citizenship in March of 2014.

Teresa submits her first election ballot.

Teresa submits her first election ballot.

“The reason I wanted to become a citizen is to vote,” says Teresa. For people like Ruby and Teresa and the thousands of new Americans voting for the first time, the election process allows them to express their opinions freely and play an integral part in making our country a better place.

“There is a lot going on in the country policy-wise that I don’t approve of,” says Teresa. “And yes, I can march, I can keep being active, donating money to campaigns, but now I

can vote and make a difference that way.”

For Teresa, there’s a sense of pride in doing more than trying to influence people to support certain causes. Now, she can do it for herself by voting.

“The best way to make a difference and change policy is to make your voice heard,” she says. “You have to vote.”

Posted on November 6, 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.

Get Citizenship Help

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