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On Saturday, May 15, immigration lawyers and experts plan to offer a free virtual citizenship workshop for people in the metropolitan area who wish to apply to be American.
“You’ve been here so long. If you speak English, if you’ve studied history, you’re more than halfway to being an American, if not much more. You might as well take the next step,” says Will McNamara, an immigration attorney with the Rocky Mountains Lutheran Family Services, who organized the workshop.
McNamara will host a free citizenship briefing session on Tuesday, May 11th at 6:00 p.m. explaining the benefits to immigrants of obtaining citizenship … and only who is eligible to apply.
“In my talk, the two most important points are the right to vote and the protection against deportation. I go back and forth about which should be number one and which should be number two,” says McNamara. “The information night is intended to inform people about the citizenship process.”
The workshop on May 15 will match attendees with immigration lawyers or Justice Department-accredited immigration officials who can help them complete and review their entire citizenship application in free two-hour blocks.
“We’ll find out what they need. Obviously, many cases are perfect and ready to go. In this case, I’ll print out the application and all supporting documents, sign it as the creator, and send it to the applicant to submit for himself,” says McNamara. “If there’s a tax problem or a criminal history problem, we can either refer them internally to one of our grant programs if they live in Denver, or we can refer them to a low bono [discounted] American Immigration Lawyers Association attorney or tax professional. “
In 2018, 549,181 Coloradans – about 10 percent of the state’s population – were immigrants; About 40 percent of them came from Mexico. India, China, Vietnam and Canada were other common countries of origin, according to the American Immigration Council. Around 45 percent of these immigrants were naturalized citizens by 2018.
The Rocky Mountains Lutheran Family Services, where these briefings and citizen workshops usually take place in person, have already hosted seven virtual workshops during the pandemic in Denver, Fort Collins, Summit County, and Colorado Springs.
The regional focus enables the LFS to call in local immigration experts who work in the legal profession or in the public sector. Events in Denver this week include representatives from the Denver City Agency for Human Rights and Partnerships, the Denver Public Library, and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. Although McNamara has been classified as a “Denver” event, the workshop is open to anyone living in Colorado.
Besides giving a person the right to vote and losing the fear of deportation, there are other important benefits to becoming a citizen. McNamara points out: “Some people have been here for twenty years and simply want to go back to their home country for more than six months and visit their families without having to worry about the visa process.”
You can register for the information event here and for the citizens’ workshop here. A Spanish interpretation is available for the workshop.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh works at Westword where he covers a range of topics including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves talking about New York sports.