BY LYNN EDMONDS
Permanent residents interested in becoming United States citizens can receive free assistance and legal counseling at the Flushing YMCA on March 19th, Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) announced last Thursday.
CUNY’s Citizenship NOW!, a provider of free immigration law services to help families on their path to citizenship, is hosting the event, where experienced lawyers and immigration professionals will provide application assistance to the first 130 applicants that RSVP who also meet citizenship requirements.
Citizenship Now! Representatives said they could help applicants with their paperwork by determining if they are eligible for a fee waiver, taking photos, advising them on the documentation they need and directing them toward English-language learning resources.
Koo urged permanent residents to attend.
“Unfortunately the path to citizenship is not easy,” Koo said.
The elected officials said citizenship would give people another avenue to contribute to the country and partake in civic life, especially with regard to the right to vote.
“Just pick up any one of the newspaper or watch any of the television station, everything is focused on the presidential campaign,” Stavisky said. “A vote is a very important right.”
A representative from Citizenship NOW! said that applicants who submitted their papers at the March event would likely have their citizenship in time for the November elections.
Other benefits of citizenship include the ability to hold public sector jobs, the ability to spend lengthy periods of time abroad and then return to the United States and even the ability to run for public office.
The politicians all shared a positive, pro-immigrant message.
“We embrace our immigrant community. It doesn’t matter where you come from; we want you to become part of the American fabric,” Kim said.
Interested applicants must call (646) 664-9400 to RSVP. The event will take place from 11am to 2pm at the Flushing YMCA, located at 138-46 Northern Blvd.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana