Area residents had the opportunity to learn about becoming U.S. citizens and even fill out citizenship applications as local organizations joined together to host a citizenship workshop.
The workshop, co-hosted by the Rockwall League of United Latin American Citizens, Light of Hope Immigration Law Center and the First United Methodist Church of Rockwall, provided legal help in filling out the N-400 citizenship application, information on preparing for the U.S. citizenship test and English classes available locally. Juana Rojas de Carrillo of Royse City was one of the attendees and sought to get help in filling out her U.S. citizenship application.
“I’ve always wanted to be a U.S. citizen,” Rojas de Carrillo said in Spanish. “I have my family here, my kids are here, my husband and I work here. I’ve always wanted to cast my own vote, like citizens here do.”
She’s currently a lawful permanent resident and has been for nearly 17 years. She saw this workshop as an opportunity to take the first step in becoming a U.S. citizen, and also cited encouragement from her daughters as a deciding factor to begin the lengthy citizenship process.
“I’ve made my decision and my daughters have encouraged me to apply for citizenship and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll try it.’ And I’ve come to the conclusion that this is for the best,” she said. “I feel good and I’m glad they have these events because it opens doors for us and we feel more comfortable.”
This is the first event of its kind the Rockwall LULAC has hosted in the area, along with Light of Hope Immigration Law Center and the First United Methodist Church of Rockwall. Rockwall LULAC President Ericka Ledferd, who helped organize the event, hopes to continue having these workshops in the Rockwall area. This particular event, she said, began as a meeting with Sandy Heard, associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Rockwall.
“At that meeting, we talked about removing the unnecessary barriers to citizenship in our community to help lawful permanent resident neighbors to overcome such difficulties,” Ledferd said. “Our meeting culminated with the projected blueprint to the citizenship workshop.”
Ledferd said events, such as the one held this past Saturday are “important to have.”
“We should continue to promote and provide information about the naturalization process. A sustained effort to reach and educate eligible immigrants will go a long way in benefiting our local community in general.”
The Light of Hope Immigration Law Center of Plano has hosted similar workshops in Plano and Dallas metroplex area, but this is the first time it participates in a workshop in Rockwall. The founder and CEO of the law center, Gloria Granados, helped train about 40 volunteers for the event and checked citizenship applications as they were being filled out.
“Our intention is to serve the community, to serve people who are in need of help with this process but cannot afford to pay fees for an attorney,” Granados said at the event.
Granados practices immigration law and represents clients before immigration courts and the U.S. Department of Justice. Her practice includes helping with various immigration-related areas and focuses on low income families navigating the immigration system.
“We have the intention, we have the knowledge and we have the ability,” she said. “This is our first workshop here, but I hope it’s the first one of many because I don’t think it’s just today that the need is there. But we can show our love and our love of God through our service.”