"House of Labor" Helps Immigrants Apply for Citizenship

Sunday, June 29, 2014

(Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO)

The “House of Labor” threw its doors open to immigrants last Saturday. As the Brazil-Chile World Cup match played on a large-screen TV, the local labor movement collaborated with CASA de Maryland and United We Dream to help green-card holders complete the lengthy and complex application for U.S. citizenship at the AFL-CIO's headquarters on 16th Street. Assistance was also provided for youth renewing or applying for the first time for Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Emphasizing that the labor movement “has a stake in aiding our fellow workers complete the steps towards citizenship,” Presidents Jos Williams (Metropolitan Washington Council) and Dan Duncan (NOVA Labor Council) welcomed the large number of volunteers at the start of the day. “Many of us, or our parents and grandparents, followed this path,” said Williams. The union volunteers had attended a training session to prepare them to give assistance, and volunteer lawyers were on hand to review completed applications and answer questions, while AFL-CIO staff handled logistics to ensure that the applicants and volunteers enjoyed a smooth, well-run operation. Applicants commented that they were impressed with how well the clinic was run, were appreciative of labor’s efforts, and were gratified by the respect shown them by the volunteers. By the end of the day, over a hundred applicants had been served. “Thirty-seven DACA renewals and 12 first time DACA applicants were able to complete their forms,” said David Chung of United We Dream. “These are very good numbers.” According to Kelly Rodriguez, AFL-CIO Assistant to Executive Vice-President Tefere Gebre, there were 58 citizenship applicants processed by the end of Saturday’s clinic, and, she wrote in a post-event email to the volunteers, “There will be future workshops.”

- report/photos by Bruce Wolf, OPEIU Local 2 Social Justice Committee; top: citizen application review; bottom: DACA final review in the John L. Lewis Room


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