For Immediate Release: July 16, 2020
Contact: Krystina Francois, 305-450-6123, Krystina.Francois@miamidade.gov

Office of New Americans Celebrates 2020 Miami Citizenship Week with #NaturalizeMiamiNow Campaign

Miami, FL- As a part of Miami Citizenship Week, the Office of New Americans of Miami-Dade (ONA) and the Miami New Americans Campaign held a virtual press conference to announce the launch of #NaturalizeMiamiNow, a FREE 3-day Virtual Citizenship Clinic from September 16th to September 19th. ONA also announced that scholarships from ONA’s New American Fund will be provided to cover the cost of the naturalization application fee for a select number of applicants.

The clinic will help applicants better understand the naturalization process and prepare for the naturalization exams. Originally started as a non-profit affiliated with Miami-Dade County, the Office of New Americans seeks to encourage and assist eligible legal permanent residents in becoming citizens. There are over 500,000 legal permanent residents in Miami-Dade. Becoming a New American is invaluable for individuals, families and the community at large. New Americans earn 11% more, are more likely to be homeowners and are able to petition for their immediate families members more quickly, than their green card holding counterparts.

“Now more than ever, citizenship is important. We’re coming together to help immigrants overcome any barriers Miami residents may have to obtaining American citizenship by offering free legal assistance, study materials, access to classes and any other resources that can help them on their journey to citizenship. Safety, security, and stability are what we seek to provide for future New Americans in Miami-Dade County in these uncertain times.” said Krystina François, Executive Director at Office of New Americans of Miami-Dade, and speaker at the press conference.

With the impending USCIS furlough in August and the fee increase set to go into effect in the fall, this event is our final push to get as many residents naturalized before the increase goes into effect.

Quotes from other speakers:

“For many lawful permanent residents, becoming a U.S. Citizen can seem like a difficult process. The process is complicated by the various barriers that individuals face—knowing where to find documents, understanding legal implications of crimes or travel, the high application cost, and knowing where to obtain assistance with preparation. Having a resource like the Miami New Americans Campaign (NAC) is valuable in ensuring that eligible individuals in South Florida can easily and successfully apply for naturalization and eventually become U.S. citizens. While we can no longer come together in large groups, hosting a virtual event such as Naturalize Now, Miami makes it possible for us to continue providing these valuable services to the communities who need it most.” – Vanessa Joseph, Site Leader for Miami New Americans Campaign and Supervising Attorney at Catholic Legal Services, Inc.

“For nearly 25 years, Americans for Immigrant Justice has represented the most vulnerable immigrants in South Florida. The only joy greater than preventing families from being separated through removal, is that of seeing clients achieve citizenship in the United States. Many immigrants have fought decades for this honor and privilege. The process of naturalization is increasingly difficult to navigate without assistance. In these trying times, we are proud to stand with our partners to assist individuals overcome the hurdles of the citizenship process and obtain their dreams of becoming a permanent piece of the fabric of our nation.” – Adonia R. Simpson, Director of the Family Defense Program at Americans for Immigrant Justice.

“It is said that United States citizenship is a privilege whose value and importance has been described as “the highest hope of civilized me.” Schneiderman v. United States, 320 U.S. 118, 122 (1943). As U.S. citizens, we enjoy so many privileges… the right to vote; the benefits of public and disability programs; assistance abroad at U.S. embassies and consulates; the ability for children to derive citizenship; the opportunities for family reunification through petitions for family members; better economic/employment opportunities (including jobs unavailable to non-U.S.-citizens); benefits for tax and estate planning; and, protection against deportation.

By becoming a U.S. citizen, you no longer have the burden of renewing immigration benefits and subjecting yourself to the many roadblocks and delays that are so common with immigration agencies these days. Spending a lengthy period of time outside the U.S. would no longer mean that you are risking “loss of status.” There are many reasons to finalize your process and become a United States citizen. But the top reason should be so that you may exercise your vote freely, as all Americans do. Come this November, and in every election thereafter, it is imperative to vote for a President that will uphold the values upon which our great nation was founded. Those values include the protections afforded to the children and families who reach our borders and request asylum, the basic due process laws afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution, and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, no matter what color we are.” – Maggie Arias, President, South Florida Chapter, American Immigration Lawyers Association.

“For over 25 years, we have been providing citizenship services to lawful permanent residents, with a focus on the Chinese and Asian community, to help them complete the naturalization application, to train and practice the civic questions, and prepare them for the in-person Citizenship Interviews. We are also able to accompany those elderly Chinese clients meeting the language exemption for interpretation services. Through this process, we have learnt that the clients appreciate our helpful services which reduce their anxiety and enable them to have a positive and confident experience in becoming a U.S. citizen, making their dreams come true,” stated Winnie Tang, Executive Director of Florida Asian Services.

“Completing the application isn’t everything. Preparing to be a good citizen of the United States is everything.” stated Magaly Alvarado, Program Manager at Hispanic Unity of Florida.

“We aren’t allowing COVID 19 to stop us from becoming US citizens because this is our home and we want everyone to be a part of it. We are going to hold your hand through this intimidating process.” Jackie Colon, Florida Director of NALEO Educational Fund.

Don’t wait. Naturalize Now, Miami!

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