Sunday, April 21, 2019

Support Rallies Behind Latino Permanent Residents Ready to Become Citizens

Amid growing fear and uncertainty that the Trump Administration could introduce tougher immigration policies, Latino permanent residents are seeking to become citizens to avoid the possibility of deportation. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO), is one organization leading citizen workshops and like efforts, to help educate and facilitate the citizenship process for permanent residents.

“There’s a lot of anxiety in the Latino community now that if they don’t become citizens, they run the risk of being deported,” said Ileana Montes, an immigration attorney, who volunteered at the event. “Even people in an immigrant-friendly city like Elizabeth are afraid.”

Over 200 people gathered at a citizenship workshop on March 25th, with more than 60 volunteers in attendance. The purpose of the workshop was to help dispel the misinformation immigrants often receive, as well as to teach them the nuances of deportation proceedings. The urgency from some permanent residents has caused them to even camp out at the site of a workshop the night prior.

“I never had the desire before. … I thought it was too much work,” said the 57-year-old Colombian carpenter. But now, with the political climate in the U.S., Naranjo said it’s time. “It’s easier (to become a citizen) than have to worry about new immigration laws that could impact me.”

Based on U.S. government estimates, there are about 8.8 million legal permanent residents eligible to become citizens, with 3.9 million from Latin America and 1.5 million from Asia. With the uncertain political climate of the Trump administration looming, permanent residents are ready to take the step of citizenship to guarantee they can remain in this country.

NBC News