Last week, 180 New Americans Campaign partners from across the country convened in Dallas for the annual United for Citizenship Practitioners Conference. The conference, held from Sept. 9 to 12, provided local partners the opportunity to share best practices, network with other practitioners and volunteer at a large citizenship workshop.
The conference kicked-off on Wednesday at the local Univision affiliate where partners volunteered to answer calls at a phone bank and spoke to aspiring new Americans about the upcoming citizenship workshop in Dallas.
The following day, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director, León Rodríguez, joined practitioners at the conference by attending a Naturalization Working Group meeting and providing a keynote address. Over 9 million lawful permanent residents (LPRs) are eligible for citizenship and Rodríguez outlined the steps USCIS will take to promote citizenship, including the Citizenship Public Awareness Initiative, potential online reminders about citizenship eligibility, possible electronic filing and using credit cards to process the naturalization fee.
“There’s no way to lose with this group,” said Rodríguez on Thursday. “The amount of energy, the amount of passion, the amount of knowledge, the amount of ability and how right the cause that you’re fighting for is means that it is inevitable that the goal of getting those 9 million LPRs to make that personal choice to naturalize… we’re going to get there. They’re going to make that choice.”
More information about Rodríguez at the conference can be read online.
Campaign partners spent the remainder of the conference sharing best practices and participating in learning activities that ranged in topics from outreach to lawful permanent residents and efficiency planning, to the use of technology and harnessing the power of partnerships and collaboration.
An example of the interactive learning at the conference is the video below, which shows interviews conducted by partners about the citizenship process.
“This conference is a vital opportunity for our broad network of partners that work at both the local and national level to connect and learn from each other – from our funders, to our practitioners, to other key players, like USCIS,” said Melissa Rodgers, director of programs at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and the director of the New Americans Campaign. “It reminds us of the power of having our diverse network of organizations and people working together across the U.S., building a field of expertise and creating a community committed to citizenship.”
The conference culminated in a large workshop on Saturday at the Santa Clara Community Center where Dallas partners Catholic Charities of Dallas, Proyecto Inmigrante and the International Rescue Committee provided free citizenship services to over 300 aspiring new Americans. Campaign partners from around the country volunteered their time to register applicants and assist with the various components of the citizenship application.