Brooklyn, NY – In the face of mounting anti-immigrant sentiments nationwide and the absence of a comprehensive immigration reform plan by the federal government, more than 100 "green card" holders in Brooklyn grasped at the opportunity to become United States citizens. The occasion was a citizenship assistance campaign hosted by State Senator Kevin Parker in conjunction with the Citizenship and Immigration Project of CUNY.
These permanent residents, some of whom arrived hours before the advertised start, were assisted, without charge, in all the procedures necessary to apply for citizenship, including having their picture taken. .
Senator Parker, who heads the Senate Democratic Task Force on New Americans has been an aggressive advocate of immigrants’ rights. "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. In July, when USCIS again raised the cost of filing fees, it put a further burden on the backs of these hardworking residents who desire to become citizens of our country. "Therefore, I am pleased as an elected official to partner with community organizations to bring these kinds of free services to our community and assist people in the process," he said.
Some of the constituents at the event which took place at the Brooklyn College Student Center, have been permanent residents for several years. One resident of the district indicated that she has been a permanent resident since the age of 12. At 43, she made the decision to become a citizen after receiving a flyer from the Senator’s office.
Studies have shown 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. "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," Senator Parker said.