Persistence to Naturalize Pays off

Celia and Alfredo Ramirez moved to the United States from Mexico in 1998. Celia came with a green card for which her daughter petitioned and Alfredo on a tourist visa, later becoming a lawful permanent resident as well.

More than a decade ago the Ramirezes applied for citizenship as soon as they were eligible. Both failed on account of their English language proficiency.

Rather than renew their green cards, Celia and Alfredo applied for citizenship again this past year, this time with help from the East Bay Naturalization Collaborative, a New Americans Campaign partner.

This time around, their age made them eligible for a language exemption, and they were able to take the civics exam in their native Spanish. This time they passed, and on Sept. 7 Celia and Alfredo were sworn in as new U.S. citizens.

The East Bay Naturalization Collaborative helped them through the process – from completing the N-400 application, to helping them study for the civics test. Celia and Alfredo also participated in a citizenship workshop organized by the collaborative.

“We were very upset when we were unable to pass the test ten years ago,” says Alfredo. “Today, we are happy and proud to be American citizens.”

Yoshira Mendez, a coordinator with the East Bay Naturalization Collaborative, helped the Ramirezes through the naturalization process.

“I’m glad that Celia and Alfredo trusted us to help them reapply,” says Yoshira. “They were very happy when they passed their exam, and that excitement continues to inspire our work in helping others achieve their dream of U.S. citizenship.”

The benefits of citizenship motivated Celia and Alfredo to reapply after ten years.. Now, they look forward to accessing more benefits, voting and the added protection of not being deportable from a country they’ve called home for 18 years.


Posted on September 15, 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