21 Jun

Immigrant Heritage Month – Yalitza’s Story

On Saturday June 10th, East Bay Naturalization in partnership with the City of Hayward and the New Americans Campaign held a citizenship workshop where we helped people complete their citizenship applications and if eligible, the fee waiver as well.  It was a successful day has we helped over 100 move closer to becoming U.S. citizens.

We had the opportunity to sit down with several participants where they shared their personal experience immigrating to the United States in honor of immigrant heritage month and what this process means to them.

Yalitza, from Mexico, shared with a volunteer the long immigration process she has gone through since arriving at a young age:

 “Well I came here when I was 6 years old, as I was growing up I went through the whole immigration process and it just so happened to be that they messed up with my application so it took many more years than it should have so I actually got my residency right before I started college. So I got these letters and everything but I was having issues with schools because I didn’t have it [residency] yet to so they weren’t able to offer me financial aid packages. But it was like a miracle because it came that summer before I was going to start [college] and so now I’m here trying to become a citizen.”

Yalitza was asked to share her reasons for applying for U.S. citizenship.

“Well to be honest, becoming or not becoming a US citizen wasn’t really important to me. Nationality is… First I am human so it didn’t really have any pressure to become a citizen. But with everything that is going on right now and my green card will expire next year I figured I would apply for citizenship. And I was practically raised here so I do have roots here.”

Yalitza went on to speak about her dual identity and the struggle of identifying as Mexican while being raised in the U.S. When she was asked what becoming an American citizen means to her she explained:

“I have mixed feelings because I am human first. I have always considered myself Mexican but at the same time I know I’m not just Mexican, I’m Mexican American even though I don’t usually call myself a Mexican American. So to me it’s a piece of paper but I feel that maybe at the same time I feeling like a somewhat don’t belong here so maybe that piece of paper will make a statement that I do [belong here].”

We are thankful to Yalitza and all those who were willing to open up and share their personal stories on the path to become U.S. citizens. These journeys are rarely straightforward as Yalitza demonstrated with the difficulty she experienced in getting her residency. Good luck to all those in the naturalization!

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06 Nov

Press coverage for our Naturalization and DACA Workshop in Oakland

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Press coverage for our Naturalization and DACA Workshop in Oakland

Our Naturalization and DACA Workshop in Oakland was covered by a number of media outlets, and discussed how important the work is to the community as well as the individual stories and backgrounds of the clients that we assisted.

This is another example of the importance of helping these communities in obtaining guidance and assistance.

Here is a synopsis of three different outlets and highlights from their stories.  

In ChicoEr News, Malaika Fraley highlights the two October workshops aimed to help documented immigrants apply for citizenship and students of at least 15 years of age apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Status. Aside from the workshop being free to the public, Oakland residents and students attending school in Oakland have the opportunity to get the $465 fee waived. Manzi-Pumar, an immigrant from Venezuela, has gained immense opportunity from applying for DACA Status. She is now working for a non profit and able to visit her family in her home country, something she hasn’t been able to do for over a decade.

The Catholic Voice’s coverage highlighted the diverse stories of those who attended.

Up to 300 people are expected at the citizenship workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, when volunteers will help those who are eligible to apply for citizenship and fill out paperwork. It’s open to all East Bay residents who are green card holders and have been U.S. residents for at least five years, or three years if they obtained residency through marriage.

The article introduced the Villa-Real family.JoJo and his wife, Eloisa, have 4 children, 3 of whom are seeking a path to gain their US citizenship (the fourth already has citizenship). At our October 14 event, they learned that they qualify for citizenship and subsequently are eligible for a scholarship from the armed forces and able to attend a school with an ROTC program. There were over 200 volunteers helping attendees move through the stations. Additionally, there were over 12 languages represented among the volunteers, which further helped facilitate the process. Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, was in attendance and welcomed all those attending the workshop with open arms and thanked the volunteers for their assistance.

In the Mercury News’ summary we learn of three California residents who have each spent over a decade in the United States. The workshop hosted by The Diocese of Oakland, Catholic Charities of the East Bay, the Oakland DACA/DAPA Project and the East Bay Naturalization Collaborative allowed these people to get one step closer to citizenship. At the workshop volunteers were available to help attendees through the process and lawyers were on hand to offer legal advice.

To find out more about our Naturalization and DACA Workshop in Oakland, visit our home page or contact us.