Brooklyn, NY – Close to 50 residents from across the borough of Brooklyn and beyond took advantage of the opportunity to apply for US citizenship during a recent campaign hosted by State Senator Kevin Parker. The Citizenship Drive campaign which assisted permanent residents with all of the procedures necessary to apply for citizenship was hosted in conjunction with NALEO Educational Fund.
Senator Parker who -- in addition to his numerous assignments in the Senate also heads the Democratic Task Force on New Americans -- has been an aggressive advocate of the rights of immigrants. "The American Dream is possible for every one of the 800,000 plus legal permanent residents who make New York their home," he said. "But traditionally, there have been barriers to this process such as adequate information, language and cost. On July 30, the USCIS will again raise the cost of filing fees thereby putting a further burden on the backs of these hardworking residents who desire to become citizens of our country. "I count it as a privilege to bring these kinds of services to our community and assist people in the process," he said.
Studies which have been conducted by NALEO Educational Fund show that of the 800,000 legal permanent residents in New York State who are eligible for citizenship, the vast majority live in the five boroughs of New York City. "Our city has always been the bedrock of immigrant life in this country," said Julissa Ferreres, Director of NALEO, NY "Therefore, we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to assist documented residents who, as naturalized citizens, can actively participate in the civic life of the United States. This has been an integral part of the mission and aim of NALEO and we are happy to have had the opportunity to partner with State Senator Parker in this work."
Grasping the opportunity to apply for citizenship for herself, her mother, two aunts and five of their children, was Jeanelle S. who lives in one of the outer boroughs. According to Jeanelle, she has been procrastinating filing for her citizenship for more than seven years. But then she found a flyer advertising Senator Parker’s Citizenship drive. "I knew that this was a golden opportunity especially with the impending fee increase," she said. "This was such a convenient way to have everything done on the same day and at one place."
Cecil S. a national of Jamaica, was present at the event with his 35-year-old daughter who was applying for her citizenship. "I know that it is a part of the job of elected officials to do this kind of thing," he said. "But I am grateful to Senator Parker for bringing this service to the community. It is a great gesture that provides a level of convenience that is commendable."
Patricia L. was eager to take the opportunity not only to "beat the rising cost" but also to help her family in Grenada. "I admit that this is something that I have been putting off for far too long," she said. "I have family members who are still living in the Caribbean and I know that as a citizen of the United States I have an opportunity to help them. But I have always had a problem finding the right help."
Senator Parker has plans to continue supporting the efforts of NALEO in its nationwide drive to naturalize thousands of permanent residents. In addition to the personal benefits to themselves and their families, these newest Americans will be able to participate and have a voice in the future direction of this country.