New NJ advocacy center to help legal immigrants achieve full citizenship

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America

Oct. 29, 2014

Jersey City, NJ – “We Are One New Jersey” is a one stop citizenship empowerment center in Jersey City.’

It’s the state’s first labor-led immigrant advocacy center created to help thousands of legal immigrants achieve their American Dream of full citizenship and the right to vote.

The center will provide legal services and assistance to Legal Permanent Residents (LPR’s) living in Hudson County who are eligible to apply for US Citizenship.

The center will also provide preparation for the citizenship test and interview, along with US civics, government and history training workshops.

All of these services are free of charge.

US Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker showed their support for the newly opened center located at the Hudson County building in Jersey City, NJ.

“If you’re a permanent resident, you want to become a citizen, come to One New Jersey. If you’re concerned whether you’ll pass the exam or not, come to One New Jersey. If you don’t think you can afford the application fee, come to One New Jersey,” Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said. “All those challenges can be met here at One New Jersey.”

With 653,000 diverse residents, Hudson County is home to 93,000 legal permanent residents who are eligible to become US Citizens but have not done so.

Booker said, “Children yet unborn will benefit from this, because it’s going to help so many new Americans really have that American Dream that will ripple out and have an impact for generations yet to come.”

Center Coordinator Yves Nibungco says, “We Are One Center” will also assist tens of thousands of new US Citizens to register and to vote for future elections.

“Becoming a US Citizen comes with more privileges such as voting, which is something that we Filipinos, something that we should be aiming for,” Nibungco said. “The goal is, if there are more empowered community, there will be more progress for our community and our needs are better responded to,” community leader Lumen Castaneda said. “Malaking tulong ang magagwa nito kasi yung mga hindi maka-afford ng bayad sa para maging citizen, ay mayroong provision dito na makakakuha sila ng very easy loan.”

The center will soon also provide legal services for the undocumented who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

New Americans may be susceptible to wage theft and unpaid overtime pay, so the center will also provide guidance on how workers can collect unpaid wages and overtime.

In order to build stronger communities, the center believes in empowering eligible resident to become US Citizens, and encouraging them to engage fully in the democratic process.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com

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