YWCA Princeton, LADLEF Hosts Free One-Stop Immigration Workshop

On Saturday, Aug. 22, YWCA Princeton, in collaboration with the Latin American Legal Defense & Education Fund, will host a one-stop immigration assistance workshop to help applicants apply for U.S. citizenship or deferred action for childhood arrivals.

A non-citizen who has been a legal permanent resident for at least five years – three years if married to a U.S. citizen – who demonstrates basic command of the English language and good moral character, may qualify for citizenship.

The application fee costs $650, which can be waived for applicants whose household income falls below 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline.

In New Jersey, 50 percent of the close to 2 million foreign-born residents are U.S. citizens.

Youth who entered the country without authorization prior to June 15, 2007, were less than 16 years of age at the time, are in high school, are in a program leading to a high school-equivalent diploma or have already graduated from high school, may also be eligible for DACA.

Those who qualify for DACA would receive temporary employment authorization, with which they can also apply for a driver’s license.

One-third of the approximately 70,000 state residents who are believed to be eligible for DACA have applied. The filing fee costs $465.

“We had been anticipating being a lot busier this year with what appeared to be positive new policies put in place by the Department of Homeland Security, which would potentially have allowed almost half of the unauthorized foreign-born residents in the country to temporarily regularize their situation,” Executive Director at LALDEF Maria Juega said. “As it turns out, the policies were challenged in federal court earlier this year, by a number of states, and they have been put on indefinite hold. LALDEF wanted to still do some community outreach to encourage and facilitate the process of citizenship for those eligible, as well as help the youth – the so-called ‘dreamers’ – who might be able to take advantage of the relatively new process – DACA.”

The workshop, which will run from 1-5 p.m., brings under one roof all the necessary resources to be able to complete an application.

“At YWCA, we see first-hand that the lack of comprehensive immigration reform has taken a devastating toll on countless immigrant families,” said Director of Advocacy and Development Nancy Faherty. “In New Jersey, women make up 51.4 percent of the immigrant population. Without adequate resources to navigate the path to citizenship, women and their children face overwhelming challenges.”

Trained volunteers will assist applicants in completing the necessary forms.

Immigration attorneys will also be available for private consultations and to review completed applications. Spanish translators will offer birth and marriage certificate translations.

Representatives from YWCA Princeton will provide information about ESL classes, classes to prepare for the high school equivalency test and classes to prepare for the citizenship interview. Anyone interested may register during the event.

“Our mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. Everything we do is intended to keep us true to that purpose,” Faherty said.

Representatives of Dress for Success Mercer and UIH Family Partners will also be available to offer career planning and job search assistance.

To take part in the workshop, participants must pre-register by calling (609) 688-0881 to obtain a list of documents and information they will need to bring with them to the workshop.

All services will be provided free of charge, except for a nominal charge for photocopies.

There will be Spanish-speaking volunteer interpreters at the site throughout the event.