April 4, 2013

CWS Plans Third Citizenship Workshop in New York

En español:

Brooklyn event’s pro bono legal assist aims to make naturalization process easier

***EDITORS’ NOTE: Interviews available on request with CWS immigration legal services specialists and New York residents who have become citizens or are now applying for citizenship.***

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Humanitarian agency CWS announced plans today for the third in a series of free naturalization workshops for New York City immigrants seeking pro bono legal services to complete citizenship applications.

Manhattan-headquartered CWS and Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, one of New York City’s leading employment and training organizations for unemployed and under-employed residents, will co-sponsor the Naturalization for New Americans workshop, scheduled Friday April 12, 2013, in Brooklyn’s Bushwick community.

The April 12 Naturalization for New Americans workshop and similar CWS citizenship workshops held last month in Manhattan are timed against the current backdrop of the nation’s heightened immigration reform agenda.

The Brooklyn workshop is part of CWS’s participation in the New Americans Campaign, an initiative of a national network of businesses, faith-based organizations, community leaders and foundations to transform the nation’s system of naturalization assistance and help more legal permanent immigrants become U.S. citizens.

Relief, development and refugee assistance agency CWS is one of nine organizations the U.S. government works with to resettle refugees in this country. The agency is an active voice in Washington calling for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship and that ensures family unity.

Brooklyn-based Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow is a new opportunity center member site of the New York State Office for New Americans, a new network of 27 neighborhood-based Opportunity Centers and the first office in New York solely focused on helping the state's immigrants.

The CWS citizenship assistance workshop will be held at the Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow center, 25 Thornton Street, Brooklyn, April 12, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

“We’re pleased to join with the Office for a Better Tomorrow in aligning with Governor Cuomo’s vision for the state’s new Office for New Americans,” said CWS Associate Director for Immigration Tara Pinkham.

“We’re equally pleased to partner with OBT in offering assistance to those in Bushwick’s sizeable immigrant community who qualify for citizenship but haven’t pursued applications due to costs, the complexity of the process, or simply shyness.”

In one of CWS’s February workshops, Pinkham described an elderly woman who told of a discouraging experience when attempting to file for citizenship on a previous occasion. Finishing the task this time, after working with an attorney, she said, “I feel so respected.”

Of New York City’s more than 8 million residents, it’s estimated that almost 40 percent are foreign-born. “Of those lawful permanent residents who are eligible to become citizens, only a small percentage actually apply for naturalization each year,” said Pinkham. “Our aim is to encourage more green card holders to become U.S. citizens, and these workshops help them realize that goal.”

According to the Office for New Americans, half of New York State’s 4.2 million immigrants are now U.S. citizens. 1.56 million are green card holders who are eligible to apply for citizenship.

In 2010, there were 39.9 million foreign-born people in the United States. Twenty-four percent were legal permanent residents. Annually, only 8 percent of the country’s legal permanent residents become citizens.

Attendance in the free Naturalization for New Americans workshop requires an appointment made in advance. For more information, contact: Tara Pinkham, Associate Director for Immigration, Church World Service, Phone: (212) 870-2811, or email: tpinkham@churchworldservice.org.