"When legal permanent residents become citizens, we all benefit. Their lives become more stable and their futures more secure." - Supervisor Warren Slocum. That was the purpose of Saturday's event.
We co-sponsored the "Citizenship Workshop" to help legal permanent residents receiving public assistance move along the path to citizenship by providing assistance with the applications, free legal consulations, and a fee waiver for those who were income-eligible. Thanks to our co-sponsors: San Mateo County's Human Services Agency (HSA), the New Americans Campaign, the International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA) and their 30 volunteer attorneys, Sequoia Union High School District, and another 80 volunteers - many from the County of San Mateo.
San Mateo County is home to approximately 13,000 legal permanent residents. About 1,100 invitations to the Citizenship Workshop were sent to the legal, permanent residents of Redwood City who are currently enrolled in programs like Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKS, CAPI and general assistance.
On Saturday, about 200 workshop attendees received a free consultation, in-person help filling out the application, and a final legal review by a volunteer attorney. The citizenship application is a 21-page form that is daunting for anyone, but moreso for second language learners. It has to be filled it out correctly and completely. This workshop was designed to help people produce a successful application. Workshop attendees were also provided information and referrals to English language, citizenship, and citizenship interview classes offered by other agencies.
The workshop was open to all legal permanent residents, but only active clients of public assistance had their citizenship application fee of $680 waived. To qualify for the fee waiver, applicants had to provide a letter of benefits verification.
It was great to see how well organized the workshop was. Volunteers were trained in advance and the gymnasium at Sequoia High School was set-up perfectly for the crowd. People were directed at every step, never rushed, and treated with respect. Jim Lianedes, Superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District stopped by to express the district's support for the event. Iliana Rodriguez, San Mateo County's Director of Human Services (HSA), Edwin Chan (HSA), and my Legislative Aide Irving Torres coordinated a success time and energy to coordinating a successful day and Marci Dragun and Carol Marks from my staff volunteered at the workshop, too. Thanks to all.