When We Become a U.S. Citizen

“Naturalization empowers people. Once an immigrant naturalizes, they become a power, they become engaged and they now have a voice,” said Vanessa Sandoval. Those were some of the very powerful words that strike a resonating chord with every immigrant in the United States, writes Amar D. Gupta. (#NewAmericansCampaign, @NewAmericansCampaign, #USCIS, @USCIS, @NewAmericaMedia, #NewAmericaMedia, #Siliconeer, @Siliconeer, #USCitizenship, #NewAmericanWorkforce, #NationalImmigrationForum, @CityofSanJose)

Thanking the City of San Jose for their generosity in hosting the event at the San Jose City Hall, Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media said, “Two years ago, New America Media partnered with New Americans Campaign for the first time and San Jose. We’re taking on a topic this is often not seen as quite as sexy as Super Bowl but it is profoundly important. Enrolling eligible immigrants who unfortunately represent a very small number who’ve actually applied for Citizenship. And the challenge of course is how do we get a sense of urgency, how do we get a sense of optimism, how do we really mobilize people to enroll, to apply, to go through this process to become citizens.”

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Sandy Close, executive director, New America Media (c, standing) with speakers at the U.S. Citizenship & the 2016 Race briefing, at San Jose City Hall, Feb. 5. (Amar D. Gupta | Siliconeer)

Taking stock, Close said, “We walked into this field two years ago, what’s changed as of today?”

“We are at a point of growing anti-immigrant hostility, both globally and nationally, you can feel it, you can see it. It’s propelled by the extraordinary increase we see in global migration,” said Close.

“According to a report in The New York Times, one in every 122 people on the planet is fleeing conflict. And the trend for people in movement for migration seems to be irreversible. The focus today is mainly citizenship so the migrant can be the voice of the community and exercise their right to vote. If someone applies now, they can still make it to be able to vote in the upcoming November U.S. Presidential elections.”

With these words, Sandy gave the floor to the panel of speakers, starting with Vanessa Sandoval of SIREN the organization that leads the New Americans Campaign. Out of the many statistics Sandoval mentioned, SIREN and New Americans Campaign have helped naturalize 200,000 people nationwide since 2011. In Santa Clara county, SIREN is working with local organizations to provide free naturalization services across the county.

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