Amalia Rojas is 93 years old, but it isn’t late to apply for her US citizenship. She sits at her table in her home with her green card and fills out her citizenship form. To get US citizenship, immigrants have to wait for five years after getting the US green card or permanent residency. More than 250,000 immigrants from the Dallas-Fort Worth region are US permanent residents and are waiting for their five year period to get over so that they can apply for US citizenship. According to National Partnership for New Americans, there are over 8.8 million people in the US who are eligible for the naturalization but haven’t done it, and no one knows why. However, local churches are helping immigrants to get citizenship. Socorro Perales is a Mexican American, who got her US citizenship, years ago. She said that people trust their churches. Perales and her counterpart, Josephine Lopez-Paul, have set their targets. Lopez-Paul is a former teacher and Perales’ group’s leader. The two have set a target to helping 1,000 immigrants yearly get their US citizenships. The Spanish-speaking team is going strong as only in two months they’ve helped 1,200 people with US green cards apply for naturalization. Lopez-Paul said that many people don’t file for naturalization is because they feel disenfranchised.

Developing Leaders

Perales and Lopez-Paul have worked with many churches, formed groups, and trained leaders to solve their citizenship-related issues. Their main goal is not only to help with naturalization but also integrate these people into public life. They need to be educated about US politics because once they become citizens, they can vote. Every vote makes the difference. One of the major issues faced by them is, the people applying for citizenship don’t even have $725 to pay along with the application. Hope they find a solution out of it.

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