Central Valley

Citizenship Workshop: Assistance with Applications and Process


Stockton, CA — Catholic Charities held a Citizenship Services Workshop in their office located at 1106 N El Dorado St, Stockton, on Wednesday, February 22, to assist residents with their citizenship application. The goal of the workshop was to increase the number of Latino voters.“There are thousands of individuals who qualify to become citizens, but hesitate to apply for Citizenship for various reasons,” says Catholic Charities Office Manager, Alexandra Gonzales. “The most significant reasons are lack of English skills needed to pass the Citizenship interview process (i.e. reading, sentence writing and speaking) and lack of funds to pay USCIS $680.00 for application fee.”

Antonieta Carr, Case Manager, Catholic Charities of Stockton helps Estela Martinez (on top) with her petition for her U.S citizenship.

Among all the benefits of becoming a citizen is the ability to hold public office and the right to vote and be part of the democratic process.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Latino participation in the nation’s elections has been rising. A record 9.7 million Latinos (50% of Latino eligible voters) cast a vote in the 2008 presidential election,  and more than 21.7 million Latinos are eligible to participate in the 2012 election—the most ever.

Gonzales described the other long term benefits of getting a citizenship

  • Removal of stigma of being an “alien”
  • Ability to travel in/out of the country for extended periods of time with ease, and without abandoning their “permanent residency”
  • You can assist qualified family members in other countries reunite with you in the US through family petitions
  • Eligible to apply for federal jobs
  • You CANNOT be deported

Catholic Charities is a recognized agency of the Board of Immigration Appeals, with accredited case managers that offered free consultations to the community and also free English and civic classes. “There is also a fee waiver that can be submitted with the application if the applicant meets the income requirement.”

About Dennise Rocha

Journalist with Bilingual Weekly Newspaper

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