SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — After the last four years under the previous presidential administration, many undocumented individuals around the country feared deportation and as a result, many remained virtually undetected.
Santa Clara County and community partners are coming together to help as many undocumented individuals residing in the county to become U.S. citizens.
“We know that there are quite a few folks that would potentially be eligible for citizenship in Santa Clara County or other forms of relief,” says Zelica Rodriguez, director of Santa Clara County’s Office of Immigrant Relations.
“They have a right to live free of fear in our communities and for us, it is wanting to make sure that our immigrant community feels safe, that they feel uplifted, and that they feel integrated into the overall Santa Clara County community.”
Over 100,000 Legal Permanent Residents Living In Santa Clara County
Currently, there are over 100,000 Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) living in Santa Clara County that are eligible to become U.S. citizens, but have yet to apply.
Each year, the county partners with legal service providers to launch Citizenship Day to support over 1,000 immigrants to become naturalized citizens across Santa Clara County.
“This year will be different, it is going to be a longer campaign,” says Rodriguez.
“This year even though Citizenship Day has been a recognized day at the county, we also understand that we have to rebuild that trust with our community, we have to be really intnetial about how we do our outreach.”
Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, the county and its community partners will provide legal services to the immigrant community through a free citizenship orientation, consultation, application assistance, and study materials.
Individuals who register, complete the self-screening process by May 16, and are deemed eligible, will receive a call from one of the county’s community partners starting on May 17.
“Usually the Citizenship Day event is held in person but now with COVID we’ve actually had to transfer that into a virtual format,” says Monica Lima, director for CET Immigration and Citizenship Program.
“And so with the assistance of some programmers we’ve been able to develop a program that will help educate the community as well as pre-screen them before they actually make an interaction with one of the legal service providers.”
Free immigration services will be available in 14 different languages with the help of immigration lawyers and accredited representatives, who will help determine eligibility.
Depending on the complexity of an individual’s case, the application fee can cost more than $700, but individuals may qualify for a fee waiver or discount.
“This is actually really important because these resources are all free,” says Lima.
“We know that services are limited within the immigrant community and so we make an effort to that annually we put on this event in order to make those resources available.”
To register online, click here.
If you prefer to talk someone over the phone, you can call the following phone numbers: