Immigrants urged to naturalize
LOS ANGELES (April 24, 2017) — After the election, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) witnessed a surge of clients interested in becoming U.S. citizens. Last month, temporary staff were hired to meet the demand and support expanding naturalization assistance to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrants living in Los Angeles County. Further, with anti-immigrant sentiment growing across the country, Advancing Justice-LA urges eligible individuals to not delay in applying for citizenship.
Southern California is home to an estimated 300,000 Asian immigrants eligible for U.S. citizenship. Of this, more than half live in Los Angeles County alone. In 2012, the number of legal permanent residents (LPRs) from Asia and the Pacific settling in Los Angeles was more than double that from Mexico.
Last year, Advancing Justice-LA launched Endless Possibilities, Citizenship Now! to encourage the AAPI community to naturalize.
“When we launched the Endless Possibilities, Citizenship Now! campaign last year, we knew that our communities were motivated to naturalize for increased job opportunities, family reunification, and access to benefits,” said Christine Chen, citizenship project staff attorney at Advancing Justice-LA who managed the campaign. “But in our current political climate, Protect Yourself. Citizenship Now! is the more relevant and urgent message we want our clients to hear.”
In the year prior to the 2016 presidential election, Advancing Justice-LA received nearly 2,700 calls for citizenship assistance. The calls have nearly doubled over the past year with close to 5,000 calls since April 2016.
“It’s clear there is strong motivation to naturalize among immigrants in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community,” said Nasim Khansari, director of Advancing Justice-LA’s citizenship project. “We want to seize this unique opportunity to encourage anyone eligible to naturalize to contact us or a reputable service provider who can assist you with becoming a U.S. citizen. Now is the time to not only protect yourself but to make your voices heard.”
“Naturalization is the ultimate and strongest protection against aggressive tactics from the federal government that undermine the value and importance of immigrants and their contributions to society,” said City of Los Angeles Councilmember David Ryu.
Advancing Justice-LA’s citizenship team is available Tuesday through Friday to help provide application assistance. All staff are supervised by an immigration attorney or accredited representative. Individuals are encouraged to call Advancing Justice-LA’s toll-free in-language helpline to schedule an appointment:
*Live hotlines hours are Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Callers can leave a voicemail message all other times. Messages are typically returned within one to two business days.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice-LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.