The New Americans Campaign Ray Mangiaratti

For my volunteer work at the New Americans Campaign, I spent the majority of my time working with Esperanza Montaldo. She serves as a lawyer for the Catholic Legal Services and being able to work closely with her gave me all kinds of insight about the job of helping immigrants become citizens.

In the beginning, Esperanza and I helped clients fill out the proper applications and prepared them for the many questions they might face during the interview process. Most of the confusion among the applicants came from the translation from English to Spanish and being that I am not very strong with my Spanish, I was not much of a help. However, as I continued to watch Esperanza translate I began to recognize more and more. The most noticeable thing about the paperwork was how overly detail specific it was. It seemed purposefully complicated to throw the immigrants off. For example it made the immigrants fill out every single time they have ever came to or left the U.S. with the exact dates. Many applicants struggled with this because they came to the U.S so long ago or have been back and forth so frequently. Another thing that the applicants had trouble with was the criminal record. The application requested to tell of any infraction including a parking ticket and this idea made them nervous. They did not know if this section was going to decide their status of citizenship.

I was able to talk to a couple people but one interaction that stuck with me was with a 21 year old girl from the Dominican Republic. Her english was good so we were able to talk for a while. What made this encounter so memorable was how much I could relate to her, being the same age and both being college students. She explained how she works part time and is enrolled at classes at Miami Dade Community College. She also explained her goals of becoming a lawyer and how she knew that she had to continue working hard if she wanted to see that goal come true. I quickly realized how motivated and bright she was. I thought of how our current immigration policies treat immigrants as lessor people in many ways and this girl was the perfect example of someone who is negatively effected by this stereotype the most. There are plenty of immigrants just like this girl who can contribute to this country a great deal. It is unfortunate that we have decided to start to shut immigrants out. The whole encounter with this girl that was my age made me feel incredibly appreciative that I don’t have to deal with all the struggles these immigrants face on a daily basis.

My next visit to the New Americans Campaign was not as interactive as the first. They brought me to a back room and had me file some paper work. This visit was very boring but still a valuable experience. Although I was not directly involved in the application process as I was before, I still feel like I was doing work that greatly helps the Campaign out. They gave me such an interesting experience the first time that I felt fine giving back. They knew that I could not stay long my second visit so I assume thats why they gave me such a boring task. That being said, it wasn't all bad as I found my self becoming interested in the stories that the pages I was filing told. I also had some interesting

My experience at the New Americans Campaign was a unique look into the struggles these immigrants face on a daily basis. I was also able to get insight on how complicated the whole process of becoming a citizen was. Many things that make it complicated are done on purpose to make it harder to become a citizens and this became more and more clear throughout my experience. Esperanza and her assistants were so patient with the immigrants despite all of the issues they ran into. It was great to be able to work with someone with that much experience and I learned a great deal from the volunteer work as a whole.

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