By David Casuco
Balita Media News Service
The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) has kicked off a three-pronged state-wide civic engagement program aimed at encouraging Asian American communities in California to gain “full civic and political participation.”
High on the list of APALC multi-stage civic agenda is the naturalization effort, a program that entails assisting hundreds of green card holders who are eligible for citizenship in completing application forms and applying for fee waivers. Having done that, the APALC will now set in motion the “Register to Vote” and the “Get out the Vote” campaigns.
During a press conference in Alhambra last week, which was co-sponsored by Congressman Judy Chu and Assemblyman Mike Eng, representatives from different sectors of the community were represented. The local media was likewise in full force.
“We are now launching a new, deeper, and broader campaign to get Asian American and Pacific Islanders to become U.S. citizens,” said Stewart Kwoh, founding President and Executive Director of the APALC.Â “California is home to more than 800,000 Asian Americans who can become citizensâ€¦some of them are right here in San Gabriel Valley, which is home to a large and growing Asian immigrant community.”
Kwoh said that the APALC will conduct a series of free naturalization workshops in Los Angeles, Fresno, Orange County, Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area, and San Jose. The first workshop is set in Rosemead this week. Call (213 977-7500 for appointment.
Cong. Chu pointed out that it is important for qualified immigrants to become naturalized citizens because of the advantages that come with being one, especially now that the Republicans are â€œputting draconial proposals to take away the many things including the long-standingÂ 14th amendment, which is the right to citizenship if you are born in the United States.â€
Chu said that naturalization is a key entry into full civic and political participation. She stressed that among the benefits of being a naturalized citizen are: a) protects children, b) protects yourself, c) facilitates easy travel, d) reunites family, and e) allows one to vote.
“This (naturalization) campaign is so important because it will help in the awakening the Asian population to having even greater representation that the one that we have been able to experience in the lastÂ couple of decade,” said Chu, citing the big role of the media to make sure “that our community is able to express its voice in this great American democracy.”
In order for an immigrant to get naturalized, he or she must: Be at least 18 years old; be a permanent resident or green card holder; have continuously resided in theÂ U.S. for at least five years as a permanent resident; have been physically present in the U.S. for at least two years and a half; demonstrate good moral character; have a basic understanding of U.S. government and history; be able to understand, speak, read and write basic English. For more information, go online and check out this link: http://www.apalc.org/?page=citizenship.