Elected Officials & Labor Leaders Announce First 'Citizenship Fair'

Mar 23, 2011, 12:00 ET from LIUNA Latino Caucus

Goal Is to Register Thousands of Immigrants as U.S. Citizens and Registered Voters

NEW YORK, March 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A coalition of elected officials, labor leaders, and community supporters announced today on the steps of New York City Hall the launching of a nationwide campaign to encourage Latino and other immigrants to become United States citizens.  The first "Citizenship Fair" will be held Saturday, March 26, 2011 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Renaissance Charter School, at 35-59 81st  Street, Jackson Heights, Queens.

"I am proud that the first of these fairs is being held in my district," said New York City Councilmember Daniel Dromm.  "Jackson Heights is one of the city's most vibrant immigrant communities, so it is only fitting that we should launch this program here."

"Today's immigrants share the same hopes and dreams that for generations have brought people to this country," said Edison Severino, chairman of the LIUNA Latino Caucus and business manager of Laborers' Local 78.  "The American dream of a good job, a safe neighborhood, a good education for their children and the opportunity to advance in our society is alive and well in Jackson Heights and hundreds of other communities across our city and country.  The fulfillment of that dream is becoming a U.S. citizen and registering to vote.  I know that, because I am an example of the American dream," Severino added.  

Joining Councilmember Dromm and Mr. Severino in making the announcement were Allan Wernick, Director, CUNY Citizenship Now!, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, and the New York City Partnership for Participation.  

 "CUNY Citizenship Now! is pleased to be working with LIUNA Local 78 to help working New Yorkers get free help on the path to U.S. citizenship," said Mr. Wernick.   "As the country's largest urban university, CUNY treasures its ability to help immigrant New Yorkers," Mr. Wernick added.

"The message is loud and clear:  Immigrants are an integral part of the American community," said Julissa Gutierrez, Northeast Director of NALEO Educational Fund.  "There is no better way to demonstrate our community's patriotism and commitment to this country than by becoming full participants in its democracy.  U.S. citizenship and voting are clearly the next steps," Gutierrez said.

The LIUNA Latino Caucus, established in 2002, consists of LIUNA members, both Latino and non-Latino, who believe that Latino workers are a key component of the country's current and future workforce.

"For generations when new immigrants came to this country, it was the labor movement that welcomed them with open arms," said Severino.  "The labor movement provided the support, strength and guidance to lift those new Americans into the middle-class.  I am proud that LIUNA continues in that tradition and sees the importance and value in helping all people become active, productive members of our society," he continued.

The first Citizenship Fair being held on Saturday will provide professional assistance, by specially trained staff, in filling out the N-400 application for citizenship.  Attorneys will be available to review all documentation before being submitted to the government.

"Citizenship and voting are the most valuable rights we possess," said Severino.  "Only by becoming full engaged in the system can we hope to bring around the change and progress needed in this great country."

The Laborers' International Union of North America, LIUNA, with over 500,000 members is the most progressive, aggressive and fastest-growing union of construction workers in the nation.

SOURCE LIUNA Latino Caucus