New Americans Campaign By: maria Agudelo

The New Americans Campaign is a groundbreaking, nonpartisan national network of legal-service providers, faith-based organizations, businesses, foundations and community leaders that is paving a better road to citizenship. They work on modernizing and streamlining access to naturalization services, so that greater numbers of lawfully qualified permanent residents take the critical step to becoming American citizens.
Applicants that we helped at the New American Campaign already had Permanent Resident Cards, or Green Cards, which they were told to bring with them along with other important documents needed to be able to fill out their citizenship application. This was an extremely important learning process for me and helped me feel closer to my new American roots because I too, applied for American Citizenship a few months back. I remember that my mom would not actually let me touch the application myself nor did I have any idea of what it actually consisted of because she was afraid I would misunderstand something on the application and accidentally make a mistake on it. However, seeing the entire process from the documents these applicants needed, to all the paperwork they had to bring and fill out and then the actual application itself, made me wish I would have either known about the New Americans Campaign sooner, or that I would have been brave enough to try to go through the process myself because you will never get to relive that.
This is our group at the New Americans Campaign in the room we initially set up in to receive these applicants to help them fill out preliminary applications that better assist us in filling out their citizenship application with them later on in the process. Seeing these applicants' excitement and anxiousness was almost all too familiar because it was like seeing my mom running around trying to find someone to proofread her application and try to help her with the parts she did not understand. She ultimately ended up going to my step-father's secretary, who is an American citizen born here in the United States and helped her own husband fill out the application a few years back.

The video above is from The New Americans Campaign website, showing the process and day to day of how things work around the office and how they are helping people become citizens everyday!

After filling out these documents and having another volunteer review the paperwork, if the person assigned to you that you are helping does not need to meet with one of the immigration attorneys provided by the New Americans Campaign, then that means you are good to go to the computer lab to start filling out the citizenship application! Here in this picture I am helping Silvia, who was from El Salvador, and pretty much helped her the rest of the day due to some problems we had while filling out her application because of a traffic ticket she had received years ago. I am not sure if Silvia will remember me after she becomes an American Citizen, but I know that I will always remember her because I went home that day and felt very good about myself and felt even better knowing that Silvia now had a completely, correctly, filled out application and that she is on her way to becoming a citizen of the United States. I will always remember almost matching her excitement because her finishing her application almost gave me the opportunity to live vicariously through her as if I had just completed mine and sent it in for review.

Not only did I learn how to successfully fill out a citizenship application, but I got to help out people who might not necessarily have been able to do it themselves or helped eliminate them filing it out incorrectly and delaying their process. On top of that, I know that I would most definitely go back and volunteer to help others who might need it and feel more confident that I can help even more than one person out in a day because of how much I learned about the application. I felt a personal connection to the people that came in that day and I think that many who are citizens in this country that have not gone through that process might not be able to relate but I extremely glad that I can. I am definitely glad that I got the opportunity to volunteer at the New Americans Campaign!

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