By Brandon Song; International Rescue Committee, Social Media and Advocacy Intern
On two consecutive Saturdays this November, volunteers from all over Los Angeles, including from local high schools, Crescenta Valley High School and Mira Costa High School, joined forces to support the IRC LA Immigration Program team at day long Citizenship Workshops for refugees and immigrants. Eligible families and individuals with Permanent Residence status (Green Card holders) were invited to the IRC LA office in Glendale on Saturday, November 10th and the Sun Valley Community Center on Saturday, November 17th to start on the extensive journey to becoming New Americans. The process of citizenship for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers can be a daunting experience. With the help of IRC LA volunteers however, the process can be demystified for the ease of immigrants in America.
Trained volunteers assisted applicants with completing the intensive US citizenship application, making sure to explain each question in detail. This is an important step, as the follow up interview with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services can include questions from the application. Applicants were then directed to DOJ (Department of Justice) Accredited IRC LA staff who handled all personal documents and conducted a final quality control check on each application. Some volunteers focused on making copies and guiding attendees to each station throughout the day. Other volunteers entertained children in order to allow their parents to focus on their applications.
Along the way, IRC LA staff and volunteers made sure to inform applicants about the citizenship process and the aid the IRC can provide along the way, including free citizenship test preparation classes held on evenings and weekends at Los Angeles and Glendale Public Libraries throughout Los Angeles County. Gaining citizenship is one of the last legal hurdles that refugees may jump while adjusting to life in America. The goal of the IRC is not only to support immigrants as they become US citizens, it is also to ensure that every New American is civic minded and engaged in their community. At the conclusion of both workshops, the IRC LA staff and volunteers were able to assist over fifty Lawful Permanent Residents.
By partnering with neighborhood institutions such as the Sun Valley Neighborhood Council and working with local volunteers, the IRC LA continues our mission of remaining a community based organization that offers opportunities for Angelenos to support and understand refugees, who in turn become better integrated into the fabric of Los Angeles.
If you would like to volunteer at future citizenship workshops, please check out our available opportunities at rescue.org/volunteer or contact our External Relations Manager at rameena.rahman [at] Rescue.org (subject: Citizenship%20Workshop%20Volunteer)