National Advocacy Committee Blog: THE MOST IMPORTANT ROLE IN A DEMOCRACY IS A CITIZEN

Celebrating NAHREP familia, cultura, politics, and grassroots action

Que onda mi gente?!

When I think of citizenship, or the embodiment of what it means to be a U.S. citizen, I think of my grandmother my Mama Panchita. She was this adorable viejita, with a smile that warmed my heart, always positive, always in a good mood. She used to make the BEST sopa de fideo and albondigas. I think that’s why I love soup so much. They remind me of her.

I remember clearly when she was studying to take her citizenship exam. She was in her late 60s. Her eyesight was already bad and she was already starting to slow down. But, she brought so much joy to the process of studying for her citizenship test that all of us loved being a part of it with her. I would go over to her house after school and as she was sweeping and cleaning the house she would have me ask her questions:

Me: Name three original U.S. Colonies:

Mama Panchita: MASA-CHUSET, VIRGINIA, DEL-A-WAAAH-RE (in her thick accent).

Granted she didn’t speak much English, but somewhere somehow she memorized the questions and answers. She would wake up studying, play tapes while she did her housework, and ask anyone in front of her to study with her. She was the embodiment of the immigrant spirit.

Mama Panchita never missed an election. From the moment she became a citizen, to her last years of life while she struggled with a lung disease and needed an oxygen tank to breathe, she showed up and cast her vote.

Naturalized citizens are more likely to vote than the general population. In 2008, the voter turnout rate in 2018 for naturalized citizens was higher than among the U.S. born. The naturalized-citizen turnout rate among Latinos was 44.2%, higher than the 39.0% turnout for U.S.-born Latinos. Our founding fathers saw the role of citizen as the most important role in a functional democracy. Few naturalized citizens take for granted the privilege that it is to be a citizen.

Our friend Jerry Ascencio brought to my attention last week that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency is proposing to nearly double the naturalization application fee to $1,170. The USCIS is also proposing to eliminate all naturalization fee waivers. These proposals would effectively make citizenship unattainable for many hard working, tax paying legal permanent residents.

With that said, public comments on the citizenship fee increase are being accepted by the USCIS, but only through December 16th. You can submit your written comments at the federal government portal or by mail. This is your opportunity to oppose the fee increase and share details about how it will impact your family and/or community.

All of you are leaders within your own community. You know your community better than anyone. Do you know how much power you have? If you do, are you using it?

About Noerena Limón

Noerena Limón is NAHREP’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Industry Relations. Noerena heads the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts on issues ranging from homeownership, housing inventory, credit access and immigration.

Prior to joining NAHREP, Noerena spent six years at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and served as a political appointee under President Obama in the White House Office of Political Affairs.