|Citizenship assistance helps ease process for applicant|
Rep. Pastor’s citizenship drive helps ease process for applicant
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Phoenix resident Clara Guevara was 19 and thinking about becoming a U.S. citizen, but she was holding off with the application process.
"It’s a very important process and you don’t want to do it on your own and mess up,” Guevara recalled about her hesitancy to apply. “I had looked into the application, but it looked a little intimidating, the way it was worded. I didn’t want to make any mistakes.”
Although her father had recently become a U.S. citizen and had paid a local charity $300 to help with his paperwork, Guevara didn’t know if or when she might apply for citizenship. But when she heard about Congressman Pastor’s Citizenship Drive during a television news segment on the local Univision affiliate, she seized the opportunity.
“Free assistance” was all the encouragement Guevara needed to phone Congressman Pastor’s Office and set up an appointment, she said. “That was the only reason I did it.”
On the day of her appointment at the citizenship drive, Guevara took the documents she had been requested to bring, and met one-on-one with a very thorough volunteer who explained every step as the paperwork was filled out.
“It was good because it was helpful to understand why they needed the information,” said Guevera, who had immigrated to the United States from Guatemala in 1997. “After that, I was able to fill out (her husband) Ruben’s application on my own.”
In October 2005, several months after submitting her application, she was sworn in as a new U.S. citizen.
Guevara is one of more than 2,500 individuals who have received assistance at Congressman Pastor’s annual citizenship drive since the 1990s. Pastor holds the events to encourage legal residents to embrace the benefits of U.S. citizenship, and to provide a reliable community service at no cost for applicants who often are intimidated by the paperwork and cannot afford to pay a third party to help them with it. During the citizenship drive, trained volunteers complete the paperwork for applicants, and attorneys review it to ensure accuracy. Applicants are responsible for submitting their packets to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, and for paying the $680 processing fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Congressman Pastor’s next Citizenship Drive will be held Oct. 22 in Phoenix. Individuals may phone his Phoenix District Office at 602-256-0551 to make an appointment or for more information.
Several years after becoming a citizen, Guevara interviewed for a position as a congressional aide. She has now been working for Rep. Pastor for more than a year and is one of the staffers who organizes his citizenship drives.
“If you’re going to do it (apply for U.S. citizenship), why not do it where someone will make sure your paperwork is filled out right,” Guevara said. “This is the best opportunity.”