Eng, Chu start campaign to help immigrants become US citizens

Assemblymember Mike Eng and congresswoman Judy Chu joined The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) on Friday in introducing a state-wide campaign to assist Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in becoming US citizens.

The initiative, named The Asian American and Pacific Islander Naturalization Network, will be enacted through a collaboration between the APALC and a number of community organizations based in California. The campaign is composed of free workshops that will help green-card holders in determining their eligibility for citizenship, as well as answering their questions regarding the naturalization process.

Speaking on the timeliness of the campaign, Stewart Kwoh, Executive Director at APALC, referred to the figures in the latest Census report, and expressed the need to boost voter turnout among Asian communities. Kwoh said that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders now make up 15.5 percent of California's population, "the biggest percent we've ever had." Despite this, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders take up only 10 percent of the electorate. Kwoh added that of the people who are already naturalized citizens, 41 percent are not registered to vote.

Eng said that one of the initiative's goals is to clarify the confusion that many immigrants have about the naturalization process. He recalled an incident in which a group of immigrants had the misconception that naturalized citizens are subjected to a new set of laws. "The fear factor for citizenship is varied," Eng said. "That's why we decided to do an outreach program, to allay those fears."

Eng, Chu and the APALC will be holding the first workshop on March 26th at the Rosemead Community Center. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Workshops are also planned for the Orange County, Sacramento, San Jose, Fresno and San Francisco. For times and location, call the APALC at (213) 977-7500, or send an email to Rachanee Srisavasdi at rsrisavasdi@apalc.org.

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