HRC Las Vegas at the “ya es hora” Citizenship Workshop
July 15, 2010
The following post comes from HRC Diversity Coordinator Hyacinth Alvaran. On July 10th, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Harrah's Entertainment, together with 16 other organizations, presented a community naturalization workshop at the Latin Chamber of Commerce under the historic ya es hora ¡Ciudadanía! (It's time, Citizenship!) civic engagement campaign, assisting over 100 people in their questions about the naturalization process. More than 52 of them completed their applications to become citizens. A video of the event can be found here. Geared to help legal permanent residents achieve their dream of U.S. citizenship, the campaign offers free assistance to eligible applicants with completing the N-400 application, obtaining passport photos, and receiving legal counsel. Nationwide, the campaign has assisted more than 1.4 million immigrants in applying for U.S. citizenship. The Las Vegas citizenship workshop is one of more than a dozen being held in July, but it represents the largest ya es hora ¡Ciudadanía! coalition in the country. “We are proud to work with more than a dozen local community partners to help bring this free workshop to Las Vegas,” said Dawn Christensen, HRC political committee co-chair of HRC Las Vegas. “We want to help as many people as possible achieve citizenship because we understand that as citizens, people can help to shape the future of this country for the better.” Harrah's also donated ten scholarships, each valued at $250, to be applied to the $675 naturalization application fee. Some recipients of the scholarships were overjoyed to the point of tears. Hergit Llenas, one of the co-chairs of the workshop on behalf of HRC, recounts her experience with one of the applicants:
"As I was walking back to the building, I saw one of the applicants on his way out. I recognized him right way. He was the first person to arrive and now, he was leaving with a full application under his arm. I walked up to him and asked how everything went. 'Great!' he said. 'Not only is my citizenship paperwork done, but also, I won a $250 scholarship to help me with the cost, and I just got interviewed by FOX. Thank you so much for putting this together, I really, really appreciate it.' Later, I found out his name was Alvaro. Alvaro was referred to the event by Ana, a casino executive who attended the Latin Chamber of Commerce breakfast where I gave a presentation about ya es hora ¡Ciudadanía! So, like a domino effect, it took the Latin Chamber to welcome me as an HRC representative to give a presentation at their event, then it took the attention of Ana to pass the word, and her words eventually found Alvaro, who at the end of this chain reaction, took the initiative to be there and will soon become a citizen of the United States. That is the beauty of ya es hora, every applicant who was assisted on Saturday was the result of a combined effort of many. A magnificent coalition of non-profit organizations, corporations and individuals working together towards a common goal. A clear success story achieved through diversity, solidarity and community service."
The Las Vegas ya es hora ¡Ciudadanía! coalition includes the Human Rights Campaign, Harrah's Entertainment, Asian Chamber of Commerce, Columbian Association of Las Vegas, Democracia USA, El Tiempo & Cancha, Hermandad Mexicana, Hispanic Institute, Latin Chamber of Commerce, NALEO Educational Fund, Onda Grupera Las Vegas, Wells Fargo, ASI Conference Systems, Dom Pedro ll Brazilian Foundation, Latinas in Politics, Chihiahua Sin Fronteras, and Toastmasters en Español. These national and local organizations join the ongoing efforts to reach the 8.3 million legal permanent residents still eligible to naturalize, including 4 million eligible Latinos. In the state of Nevada alone there are more than 25,000 Latino legal permanent residents eligible for naturalization. Jose Garcia, Gift Promotions staff at Harrah's Entertainment and one of the co-chairs of the workshop, said that there are plans for future community workshops that will be coordinated with partnering organizations.
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