Immigrants learn about pathway to citizenship - Tucson News Now

Immigrants learn about pathway to citizenship

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The pathway to citizenship could get more complicated for someaspiring U.S. citizens.

During a citizenship forum held at the Valencia Library on Thursday night, aTucson based immigration attorney advised immigrants to get their paperwork inearly, as the application form they had to fill out was about to get muchlonger.

Doralina Skidmore told Tucson News Now the 10 -page applicationwould be replaced by a 21-page application, and many of the additionalquestions on the forms related to criminal history, citations, and the moralcharacter of the applicant.

Skidmore said that along with Arizona's controversial immigrationlaw SB 1070 had many of her clients nervous.

Those with minor traffic infractions such as having no light ontheir licence plates were scared to go to court to pay their fines, or evenseek legal assistance, because they were worried that border patrol would becontacted.

Skidmore said she had hundreds of immigration cases, and thedeportation cases were the toughest ones to handle as families were being tornapart.

In many cases, Skidmore said the immigrants were deported forminor traffic violations, because by law police now had to contact borderpatrol even for minor traffic citations.

Police have told Tucson News Now they are simplyfollowing state law.  Those immigrants who were eligible forcitizenship should be honest on their forms, advised Skidmore.  In mostcases she said, they had nothing to worry about.

"The people that have had tickets, just report everything andbe honest.  They are testing you for good moral character.  If youhave a few speeding tickets it's okay, as long as you have paid all of thosetickets.  If you have  DUI, we would have to make sure you are notan alcoholic, you cannot become a citizen if you're an alcoholic," saidSkidmore.

Some residents at the citizenship forum had questions about whatto say on the application if they did have previous charges.

One woman was concerned because her husband had an aggravatedassault charge on his record.  Skidmore said felony cases may require theassistance of an attorney.

More than a dozen people attended the citizenship forum.  Manyhad lived in the United States for more than twenty years.  Others weresponsored by family or married to U.S. citizens.

Radio DJ Rodrigo Olivas said the American dream attracted him tothe country.

"The good thing about America is everyone can make progresshere.. Mexico is wonderful but here it really is possible."

Angel Vasquez, who hadlived in the U.S. for more than  40 years said he was eager to become anAmerican.

"It meanseverything, everything to me. I thank God that I am here."

According to thedepartment of Homeland Security, the U.S. has the largest immigrationpopulation in the world.  More than half a million immigrants werenaturalized in the fiscal year 2013. 

Mexico, China, and Indiatopped the list of countries where majority of the immigrants came from.

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