LOS ANGELES, CA – The Asian Pacific American Legal Center, a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, announced Friday the launch of an ambitious statewide campaign to encourage Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrants in California to become U.S. citizens.
The Asian American & Pacific Islander Naturalization Network – which consists of APALC and community-based organizations statewide – will directly assist hundreds of AAPI green-card holders throughout California, providing assistance in determining eligibility for citizenship and helping those that are eligible complete their application forms and apply for fee waivers.
U.S. Representative Judy Chu and California State Assemblymember Mike Eng are partnering with APALC to hold the campaignâ€™s first workshop on March 26 in the San Gabriel Valley.Â The workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Saturday at the Rosemead Community Center, 3936 Muscatel Ave. in Rosemead.
“Naturalization is a key entry point into full civic and political participation,â€™” Chu said.
“Integrating immigrants into our larger social and political system and helping them gain U.S. citizenship benefits not only immigrants, but strengthens our democracy as a whole.”
Throughout this year, APALC and partner agencies will co-host the free naturalization workshops in six areas: Los Angeles, Fresno, Orange County, Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area and San Jose.Â Â The areas were selected based on the high number of AAPI area residents who are eligible to become citizens.Â The second workshop will be held April 30 at George Sims Community Center in Sacramento, followed by a workshop in three venues in Orange County on June 11. Asian language assistance will be provided at each session.
“Throughout California, more than 800,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are eligible or soon to be eligible to naturalize. In Los Angeles County alone, 254,000 AAPIs are eligible and many of them are right here in the San Gabriel Valley,” Eng said. “We want them to help answer their questions and help them to become new U.S. citizens.”
The AAPI Naturalization Network is the first step in APALCâ€™s multi-stage civic engagement effort to encourage new Americans to participate civically in their communities, including voting and speaking out on important issues.Â Following their naturalization, new AAPI citizens will be encouraged to register to vote, as well as receive information of how the U.S. government and elections process generally works. APALC also plans to expand its â€œGet Out the Voteâ€ efforts to ensure AAPIs across California understand the value of their voice and have the information and encouragement they need to exercise their right to vote.
“APALC is excited to kick off our statewide civic engagement effort, and specifically the naturalization network, here in the San Gabriel Valley, which is home to a large and growing Asian immigrant community,” said Stewart Kwoh, APALC executive director.
“California is home to more than 800,000 AAPIs who can become citizens. We aim to increase citizenship in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and encourage new citizens to vote and become involved with issues that affect us.”
APALC encourages the public to attend the first workshop in Rosemead next Saturday. Appointments are suggested, and can be made by calling APALC at (213) 977-7500.
Generally, in order to naturalize, an individual must:
-Be at least 18 years old
-Be a permanent resident (â€œgreen card holderâ€)
-Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years as a permanent resident
-Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least two and a half years
-Demonstrate good moral character
-Have a basic understanding of U.S. government and history
-Be able to understand, speak, read and write basic English.
Members of the public who are interested in more information in citizenship can view APALCâ€™s video, Citizenship 101: Your Guide to Citizenship online through visiting http://www.apalc.org.