On Monday, July 12, as part of LUPE’s Programa Escalera, LUPE recognized 45 graduates of our U.S. Citizenship Opportunity Program. LUPE Members received certificates recognizing their achievement and heard words of congratulation and encouragement from U.S. Representative Rubén Hinojosa and Texas Representative Armando Martinez. Graduates also took the opportunity to register to vote for the first time as new U.S. citizens.
The U.S. Citizenship Opportunity Program assists immigrants that are ready to make a deeper commitment to the United States as their home. The program offers U.S. Government classes, and reading and writing in English in preparation for the Naturalization examination administered by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services. The program allows participants to overcome their perception that they cannot fully participate in U.S. public life due to non-citizenship. As new citizens, graduates of the program are ready to integrate themselves into the fabric of American society, now allowed to participate fully in the democratic decision-making processes.
LUPE is proud to recognize all of our members who have worked hard to become new U.S. citizens. Each member has over come countless hurtles erected by our convoluted immigration system. This visual example of the long and confusing maze towards U.S. citizenship might help you appreciate all that these individuals have gone through to arrive where they are today.
Despite the long and complicated process, these members have achieved their goal of becoming citizens. Each member has shown their commitment to this nation and there is no doubt that through civic engagement and organizing they will play their part in making it a better place for all.
We also recognize the thousands more who have shown their dedication to this nation through hard work and contributions to their community yet are denied access to citizenship. Thousands of our community members, fleeing economic, religious or political persecution have made the U.S. their home yet have no path to citizenship. Being denied access to legal status, they become targets of raids, harassment, and family separation. It is the moral responsibility of our politicians to pass comprehensive immigration reform to put our immigration system back on track, for them, for their families, and for our communities.
The Citizenship Opportunity Program is just one benefit of our Programa Escalera, through which LUPE invests in the self-development of our members and the community. The program also offers Literacy, ESL, and GED classes. Escalera goes beyond the basic needs of individuals to develop greater skills thereby allowing participants to improve their lives and their ability to respond to new opportunities.
36 of Monday’s graduates have been sworn in as new naturalized citizens by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services. The remaining 9 are awaiting notification from the INS of their swearing in ceremony.