In the face of national hostility to immigrants, more than 300 community volunteers, law students, and pro bono attorneys will gather at Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont St, on Citizenship Day in Boston, Sunday, September 30, 2018, from 10 am to 4 pm, to support more than 370 immigrants in applying for U.S. citizenship.
The scene on Sunday, September 30, will be the enormous 130,000 square foot Reggie Lewis Center filled with 150 tables where lawyers and law students, assisted by community volunteers, will counsel 370 or more legal Massachusetts residents who have been pre-screened for eligibility and have brought the required documents for review by volunteers and the drafting of the critical and complex citizen application documents. Computers, passports, copying machines, birth certificates, staplers and people communicating in more than ten languages complete the picture.
This scene makes sense when we understand that Massachusetts is the home to the 7th largest immigrant population in the United States. Foreign-born residents make up almost 17% of the Massachusetts workforce. Nearly 250,000 Massachusetts immigrants are eligible to become citizens, but because of fear, cost, and confusion, only 10% apply for citizenship.
“Citizenship provides powerful rights and protections, and it creates obligations,” said Veronica Serrato, Executive Director of Project Citizenship. “It enables people to vote; in fact, 86% of new citizens register to vote and 73% actually vote in elections, which are much higher rates than the general public,” Serrato added. “New citizens earn higher wages and help build their communities by being able to buy homes, obtain loans, and otherwise invest in the U.S. economy. And, when parents become citizens, they pass on citizenship to their minor children, who become eligible for educational opportunities available to all Americans, including scholarships and loans.”
The largest annual citizenship workshop in New England, Citizenship Day is organized by Project Citizenship, a nonprofit group that works to provide Boston area immigrants access to high quality, free citizenship services. Project Citizenship works in partnership with The Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, and Citizenship Day is sponsored by The Fish Family Foundation, Goodwin Proctor, Eastern Bank, MFS and Daedalus Projects, Inc.
“Many of Boston’s residents have come to America for a better life and more opportunities,” said Mayor Walsh. “I am committed to ensuring that all of our residents feel included in Boston’s civic life and have full access to everything our city has to offer. I am proud to sponsor Citizenship Day.”
“We are proud to partner with Project Citizenship for Citizenship Day in Boston,” said Alejandra St. Guillen, Director of the Mayor’s Office for Immigration Advancement “Project Citizenship’s expertise ensured the day’s success.”