For immigrants, the United States citizenship is a long-awaited step to finally become an official member of American society with a full set of rights and civil responsibilities. On January 17, 2020, for the first time ever the Moline Public Library (MPL) held a special Naturalization ceremony for 45 immigrants who took their oath of allegiance and became American citizens.
Immigrants who participated in this important ceremony came from all over the world. Before they could take this oath of a citizen of the United States, they had to go through a lengthy process and learn about how significant it is to obtain citizenship. Many of them participated in workshops created to help green card holders to apply and gain citizenship.
“The Moline Public Library has partnered with QCAIR and Esperanza Legal Assistance Center to provide Citizenship Education Workshops,” Anita Mehuys, an instructor of the U.S. citizenship workshops in MPL and a Polish immigrant herself, explained how the Moline Public Library along with other organizations were helping immigrants to apply and obtain their citizenship. “These workshops provided informational sessions regarding the process of obtaining and the importance of U.S. Citizenship. The workshops also provided people an opportunity for assistance filling out forms and a brief consultation with an immigration lawyer regarding their own status. World Relief also offers citizenship preparation classes and helped us with our first-class offerings.”
Not a stranger to the process herself, she knows well how difficult and lengthy the process of obtaining citizenship can be.
“As an immigrant myself, I am intimately aware of the emotional and lengthy process involved in becoming a U.S. citizen,” Ms. Mehuys shared adding that knowing that the process of obtaining citizenship leaves little or no room for any mistakes and corrections pushed her to make a decision to become an instructor and teach others in the community how to go through the process successfully.
“Additionally, I wanted to reach out to those in our community to let them know they are welcomed and want them to feel included,” Anita Mehuys stated.
She was happy to share that three of the students that attended her classes were among the 45 immigrants at the naturalization ceremony in Moline Public Library.
Esperanza Legal Assistance Center, one of the partners of the Moline Public Library, had 7 immigrants taking the oath of citizenship during the naturalization ceremony in MPL.
“Every time I watch an individual take the oath of allegiance as part of the citizenship ceremony, my heart is filled with wonder and pride for all they have overcome to stand in that space and become a US Citizen,” Carolyn O’Connor from Esperanza Legal Assistance Center who worked with those 7 people on obtaining their citizenship shared her emotions and thoughts. “Many have left homes and their family and life as they knew it to seek a better life for themselves and their family and have pushed through challenges and adversity through each chapter of their immigration journey. I’m honored to be able to journey alongside many of them and assist with the process. However, those moments are not about me and my work – it is not me who should be praised. It is each person and their story and the hopes for the future. They truly are a gift to this country, and I feel it is a privilege to celebrate and recognize their achievement in those spaces.”
If you are interested in citizenship classes at the Moline Public Library, you can contact the library by emailing to [email protected] or calling 309-524-2470. If not sure about starting the process instructors of these classes will be able to make any necessary recommendations. For those who are sure about starting the classes, they need to contact and register. The classes are free of charge and they meet once a week for 8 weeks. The next class will begin on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM or interested participants can choose to register for a class that will start on Thursdays starting March 5, 2020, from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM.
Esperanza Legal Assistance Center also is planning the next set of workshops for Spring of 2020. This organization offers consultations and information about necessary steps when applying for citizenship. Esperanza Legal Assistance Center also has a grant from New Americans Campaign that gives a discount of $100 on the legal representation fees. For more information about the services that Esperanza Legal Assistance Center offers, and their fees please call (309) 732-0047. Esperanza Legal Assistance Center is located at 335 5th Ave, Moline, IL. For fees and to make online appointment request with DOJ accredits legal consultant from Esperanza Legal Assistance Center please go to http://esperanzaqc.com/legal-assistance/
The following are the necessary qualifications for anyone considering applying for United States citizenship:
- Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
- Be a permanent resident (have a “Green Card”) for at least 5 years.
- Show that you have lived for at least 3 months in the state or USCIS district where you apply.
- Demonstrate continuous residence in the United States for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400.
- Show that you have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400.
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
- Have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
- Be a person of good moral character.
- Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution