This weekend, 58 legal residents took the next step in becoming American citizens with the help of volunteers at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. A total of 49 DREAMers, who came to the United States as children, also attended to receive help filling out paperwork for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and renewals under the program.
Against the backdrop of the World Cup playing on large screen TVs, immigrants filled out paperwork necessary to start the citizenship process.
Karla Rosales, a DREAMer and Maryland resident, came with her mother to renew DACA.
These types of workshops, it’s exactly what we need. I needed to renew my DACA and this service is great. The deadline is approaching for DREAMers to renew their DACA.
Juan Gonzales Perez, a citizenship applicant from Maryland, said:
I want to become a U.S. citizen because I want to vote and to help the Latino community and be able to change things for better. It is great that we have people helping us in Spanish. Everyone has been very helpful. I hope that there are more events like this one in the future.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, who moved from Ethiopia to the United States 30 years ago and became a naturalized citizen, encouraged other immigrants to do the same.
Gebre told Huffington Post's Elise Foley:
Sometimes it's a tough thing for immigrants to decide to disavow the country that you were born in....It's a difficult decision to do, but all of us came here because we chose this country. On election day, when I go to a polling place, that's the most I feel an American.
Volunteers and labor lawyers (74) from the community, local unions and ally groups helped at the workshop, including representatives from the National Partnership for New Americans, American Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), CASA de Maryland, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), United We Dream, the Metropolitan Washington Labor Council and Northern Virginia Central Labor Council, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 (UFCW), Laborers (LIUNA), Ironworkers and Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).
Antonio Rodriguez, a citizenship applicant, said:
When we become citizens and we can vote then we are all better off. This workshop also is helping people to learn the benefits that they get when they apply for citizenship. When we become citizens we have better benefits, we can apply for more jobs and we can vote.