An American experience
I relished the opportunity to partner with the San Mateo County Human Services Agency and The New Americans Campaign in conducting a free “American Experience” citizenship workshop at Jefferson High School in Daly City Saturday, October 14.
More than 330 individuals applied for citizenship at this event. I’m pleased to say of those who did apply, 266 are expected to become new citizens.
As immigration reform has stalled at the federal level and Dreamers live in fear of being deported, this workshop showed a commitment by San Mateo County to offer a path toward citizenship for permanent residents who may be struggling financially.
Attendees who qualified were eligible to sign up for a fee waiver, a $725 value. Free legal services were also be provided to help attendees complete the citizenship application. Immigration lawyers typically charge $1,500 for this service. Attendees, in total, received nearly $700,000 in fee waivers and free legal help at the forum. A total of 201 applicants were eligible for a full fee waiver and one other qualified for a reduced fee waiver.
The waiver was only available to active clients on public assistance programs and they had to be permanent legal residents.
This was a huge investment by San Mateo County and its partners to offer full participation in the American experience.
The benefits of citizenship include the right to vote, running for elected office and being eligible for federal jobs, among others.
Applicants listed their countries of birth as Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Philippines, Burma, Cambodia, China, Colombia and South Korea.
The turnout was impressive too when it came to the age range of applicants.
Of those who applied, 61 were 65 and older. I’m so proud of these aging residents who want to identify themselves as true Americans. What a gesture of patriotism.
There were also 24 applicants ranging from 18 to 24 years old who sought citizenship that day.
I’m overwhelmed with how successful this event was especially considering 166 applicants listed the Philippines as their nation of origin. I look forward to celebrating with many of them the day they become naturalized citizens and take the plunge into living the full American experience.
San Mateo County Supervisor David J. Canepa serves District 5 which includes the cities of Daly City, Colma, Brisbane, portions of South San Francisco and San Bruno and the unincorporated Broadmoor Village.