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San Diego Encouraging Residents to Become US Citizens

CitizenshipThere are approximately 150,000 residents in San Diego “who are eligible to become U.S. citizens” (Aguilera, 2012). Community members and groups who are involved in the movement have a goal to increase citizenship rosters. An article in the Union Tribune by AUTHOR reports,  “the San Diego Naturalization Collaborative is launching the ‘You are America’ campaign.” The  ‘You are America’ campaign aims to increase citizenship in the United States--their tag line is “You are America’s Future!” Not only are they trying to get more citizen voter participation, but also emphasize the benefits of becoming a citizen. They want to encourage immigrants to become citizens so they can participate in our democracy and advocate to the best of their ability. Through this campaign, they offer free workshops to help eligible residents become citizens.  Additionally, for a low fee, individuals can make an appointment with an expert to help them with the process of applying to become a U.S. citizen. To date, there are close to 8 million legal permanent residents in the U.S. who are eligible to apply for citizenship.

In Chula Vista, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offered a bilingual workshop for immigrants who would like to know more information about citizenship and residency cases (de la Vaga, 2009). Like the ‘You are America’ campaign workshops, this workshop is also free. This workshop is geared towards the individuals and their specific naturalization cases.

            The movement to encourage permanent residents to apply for citizenship is an effort that is permeating throughout the nation. For example, the Rio Hotel And Casino Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada is offering a free workshop to help eligible residents with their citizenship applications. “Ya Es Hora, Ciudadania!” (It’s Time, Citizenship!) is the name of the workshop, which “has been organized by Mi Familia Vota, Human Rights Campaign, and Caesars Entertainment” (Lapan, 2012). Volunteers help residents with their application process—the workshop in Las Vegas will have about 400 volunteers. According to the article, there are 70,000 residents in Las Vegas who are eligible to apply for citizenship. Other cities like Hampton Bays, New York and Taunton, Massachusetts are also offering free workshops for eligible citizens to get their questions answered about naturalization and citizenship. Similar to the efforts in San Diego, the citizenship workshops are geared towards getting more voter population in the November election.

            The widespread encouragement of permanent residents applying for citizenship is an effective way of increasing voter participation in the upcoming election. I am impressed that several community members are taking the initiative to increase the country’s citizenship, especially with all the immigration issues surrounding our nation. There are so many voices that the government does not hear because of the thousands of individuals eligible for citizenship, but have not applied. This movement would be significantly impactful on college campuses. In my research, there was no indication of college campuses participating in this citizenship movement. Encouraging students to apply for citizenship, if eligible of course, will increase political socialization among college students.

Natasha Daulat ‘13

B.B.A in Finance

Works Cited

Aguilera, Elizabeth. "150,000 in SD Qualified to Become Citizens."U-T San Diego. San Diego Union Tribune, 12 Feb. 2012. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/feb/12/150000-sd-qualifed-become-citizens/>.

de la Vaga, Norma. "Bilingual Workshop Set to Help with Immigration."U-T San Diego. San Diego Union Tribune, 17 Feb. 2009. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2009/feb/17/bilingual-workshop-set-help-immigration/>.

Lapan, Tovin. "Citizenship Workshop Scheduled Saturday At Rio."LasVegasSun.com. Las Vegas Sun, 23 Feb. 2012. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/feb/23/citizenship-workshop-scheduled-saturday-rio/>.

Photo: https://sites.google.com/a/equalitysandiego.org/youareamerica2/