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“Embrace Your Hyphen”
Citizenship Drive To
Help Brooklynites With Naturalization
BROOKLYN, NY, March 17, 2017: Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna announced that they will hold their second annual “Embrace Your Hyphen” Citizenship Drive at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Saturday, March 25th from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, during which participants will receive free assistance with their naturalization applications and have legal questions answered by experienced immigration attorneys. According to an analysis by the Center for Migration Studies of New York, it has been estimated that, as of 2015, more than 200,000 Brooklynites were eligible for naturalization, with the largest such populations residing in Bensonhurst, Bushwick, East Flatbush, and Sunset Park. Borough President Adams, who recently published a New York Daily News op-ed titled “The Pathway to Citizenship is Sacred” that focuses on a national climate of anxiety for many immigrants, spoke about the event as a component of his ongoing “Embrace Your Hyphen” campaign, which focuses on celebrating the unique cultural diversity of Brooklyn and unifying various communities around shared values.
“In the midst of national unrest, Brooklyn stands resolute in assisting families along the pathway to citizenship, while advancing facts and knowledge to uncertain Brooklynites about their rights under the law,” wrote Borough President Adams. “I’ve branded this citizenship drive as part of my ‘Embrace Your Hyphen’ movement because of how important I believe it is to uplift both our national identity, as Americans, and our cultural identity, as descendants of the lands of our foremothers and forefathers. We are stronger when we embrace the ties between us, as well as the differences within ourselves. We are wiser when we draw from the lessons of our varied backgrounds and share the richness of our traditions. We will do our part to preserve and protect the pathway that, when properly fixed, will lead to a bright future for generations of Americans.”
“As the daughter of immigrant parents, one generation removed from the farms of the Dominican Republic, I am disheartened by the political climate and conversation that we’re having in this great country,” said Deputy Borough President Reyna. “I grew up with immigrant parents, immigrant friends, immigrant neighbors, immigrant parishioners and business owners, who’ve built communities and taken care of families while working endlessly and tirelessly. We are all too tired of the threat to hovering over children, parents, and our friends because our federal legislators who refuse to fix our broken immigration system while scapegoating innocent people.”
Those seeking free legal assistance at the citizenship drive must bring their green card and all passports, both expired and unexpired, their most recent federal tax return, their marriage certificate and/or divorce papers (if applicable), as well as any certified court dispositions or Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) disposition letters. Those in possession of a Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and/or Supplemental Social Security (SSI) award letter(s) should also ensure to have those documents in hand. To complete an application fee waiver, individuals will need to provide proof of the benefit that they or an immediate family member, such as a spouse or a child, are currently receiving (if applicable); this evidence must be in the form of a letter, notice, or other official document.
Organizations that are participating in Borough President Adams’ second annual “Embrace Your Hyphen” citizenship drive, which is sponsored by Affinity Health Plan, include the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) – New York Chapter; Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteers Lawyers Project (VLP); Central American Legal Assistance; Coalition of Latin American Consuls in New York; Columbia Law School; Dominicanos USA, IDNYC; Make the Road New York; New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA); Southside Community Mission; Society of Foreign Consuls in New York, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
“Affinity Health Plan is a proud supporter of the ‘Embrace Your Hyphen’ Citizenship Drive,” said Kyetah Bryan, director of community engagement for Affinity Health Plan. “In these uncertain times, it is crucial for residents to have access to sound legal advice on the naturalization and citizenship process. This is particularly true for the richly diverse Brooklyn community, which many immigrants call home.”
“The Brooklyn Bar Association VLP is proud to partner with Borough President Adams and Deputy Borough President Reyna on the ‘Embrace Your Hyphen’ Citizenship Drive by providing volunteer attorneys to assist citizenship applicants,” said Heidi Lee Henderson, Esq., executive director of the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project. “Assisting Brooklyn residents with the naturalization process enables more people to have access to rights and economic opportunity afforded by American citizenship, provides family stability, and ensures that our diversity as a nation continues to enrich us all. We are thankful that through our partnership with Borough President Adams, VLP can deliver its mission to ensure that Brooklyn residents have access to justice, have their rights protected, and their voices heard.”
“Columbia Law School is proud to join Borough President Adams and partner organizations in assisting community members to apply for naturalization during the upcoming citizenship drive,” said Laren E. Spirer, director of pro bono programs at Columbia Law School.
“Dominicanos USA urges all eligible and legal permanent residents with no minor offense to take the initial step of becoming a naturalized citizen,” said Eddie Cuesta, national executive director of Dominicanos USA. “United States citizens are afforded opportunities not available to residents, as citizenship improves one’s quality of life. A citizen can exercise their right to vote, has easier travel and re-entry into the United States, can apply for federal jobs and scholarships only open to citizens, and also has access to a multitude of other benefits.”
“With immigrant communities under attack, it’s more important than ever that those who are eligible to become citizens have the opportunity to apply,” said Theo Oshiro, deputy director of Make the Road New York. “We’re excited to partner with Borough President Adams on this important initiative to help members of our community take this vital step.”
“It’s challenging for one consulate to make a material difference on its own,” said María Isabel Nieto Jaramillo, president of the Society of Foreign Consuls in New York. “Instead, we must rely on partnerships — not only between consulates but also across sectors such business, government, and civil society. In this inter-sectoral effort, Borough President Adams has been a crucial partner and a strategic ally.