The process of becoming a U.S. citizen can be intimidating that’s why over a dozen people attended a workshop in Indio held by T.O.D.E.C. Legal Center.
Among those participating a woman, who did not want to give her name but says she’s originally from Mexico. She says she’s been in the U.S. for over 28 years but the anti-immigrant sentiment has pushed her to take action in becoming a citizen, “I’m sad and afraid that’s why I want to become a citizen so I don’t feel the fear and pain of being rejected.”
Luz Gallegos who ran the workshop and is the community programs director says many are fearful in this climate, “In my life since being born into this movement I‘ve never seen people that actually have a legal status fear for their safety.”
Gallegos says here people feel safe while having access to legal experts who answer their questions and help them fill out paperwork and there’s a lot to learn and navigate during the lengthy process, “Immigrant integration education which deals with a lot of state laws that are we have here in our state that continue to protect our undocumented community.”
It costs upwards of $700 to apply that’s why money is often a major obstacle, but T.O.D.E.C. offers free workshops like these, free legal help and also helps pay for the fees for those who qualify, “So, there’s no excuse for not applying for immigration at this point we continue we motivate community if they haven’t taken the step to do it immediately.”
Gallegos says becoming a U.S. Citizen benefits more than one person and the only way to ensure a future in this country, “The way that we secure our state in this country is by being a person of good moral character continue following the law and becoming U.S. citizens
This woman says being safe, free and having the right to vote are just a few reasons why this citizenship workshop will help change her life, “More than anything to finish school, and accomplish my dream of becoming a teacher.”
Gallegos says the free services are also available Monday through Saturday at T.O.D.E.C. Legal Centers by appointment.