Help offered as immigrants start path to citizenship - Tucson News Now

Help offered as immigrants start path to citizenship

Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Mounds of paperwork were piling up, with each detail needing to be filled. With every stroke of the pen, hope and optimism on the path to U.S. citizenship filled the room.

It's why volunteers spent Saturday morning getting immigrants on their way. A Citizenship Workshop was put on by Mi Familia Vota.

The non-profit organization donated resources for people wanting a new life. They also helped hopeful new citizens cover the cost of the $720 U.S. Customs and Immigration Services application fee. According to Eduardo Sainz, the Arizona Director for Mi Familia Vota, a fee waiver program is in place for lower-income individuals to qualify through the USCIS. Sainz said a "lack of resources" is the number one barrier to becoming citizen.

"Some still have not even filled out the applications," said immigration attorney Mo Goldman.

For some in attendance looking to gain citizenship, they were starting from square one.

"These attorneys can guide the community in every step of the process," said Ricardo Pineda, Mexico's Consulate in Tucson.

Assistance was offered, and hopeful new citizens like Sandra Rodriguez were on a fact-finding mission.

"I'm here so that I can obtain more information, have more security, and be aware of the laws that are going on right now," said the woman from Sonora through a translator. "It does worry me because I have friends and family that are here illegally."

Part of the reason the room was so full Saturday morning, according to several people there, was a fear of, and need for knowledge in, this current political climate. Attorney's like Goldman volunteered their time and gave free consultations at the consulate building on East Broadway Boulevard. Normal cost of an immigration attorney, according to Sainz, can be anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. They are more valued than ever as illegal immigration enforcement becomes a federal priority under the Trump Administration.

"It's more risk management," Goldman said. "I'm making sure that people don't file if it could be a problem. If they might be in a situation where they could lose their residency, where they could be deported."

The goal was a brighter future for those who showed up, according to Pineda, and a hope that they won't have paid a single cent when they leave.

"Once they learn that they are entitled to gain U.S. Citizenship because they have been here, working here, they live here, they have families here. So I am really happy to at least do something to help them."

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