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Citizenship Now!

Airdate: January 19, 2017
City University of New York, Citizenship Now!, and the University of Arizona announced the launch of its free citizenship applications services in Phoenix. Noriana Hermes, managing attorney for Citizenship Now! tells us more about the services being offered.

Guests:
  • Noriana Hermes - Arizona Coordinator, Citizenship Now!
Category: Immigration

Keywords: Citizenship Now!, immigration. citizenship,

View Transcript
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: WELCOME TO HORIZONTE. I'M JOSÉ CÁRDENAS. LEARN ABOUT A NATIONAL INITIATIVE EXPANDING ITS SERVICES TO ARIZONA, OFFERING FREE CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION SERVICES HERE IN THE VALLEY. AND, FIND OUT ABOUT A PROCESS GEARED TOWARDS FINDING NEW WAYS TO STRENGTHEN LATINO CATHOLICS AND THEIR RELIGIOUS NEEDS. PLUS, IN SOUNDS OF CULTURA FIND OUT WHERE YOU CAN WATCH A GROUP MOVING DANCE FLOORS WITH THEIR RUMBA, SAMBA AND MIDDLE EASTERN BEAT. ALL COMING UP NEXT ON ”HORIZONTE”. 'HORIZONTE' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF AZ PBS, MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: CITIY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK “CUNY” CITIZENSHIP NOW! AND THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA ANNOUNCED THE LAUNCH OF ITS FREE CITIZENSHUP APPLICATIONS SERVICES IN PHOENIX. THIS EFFORT IS PART OF A NATIONAL INITIATIVE BUILDING ON A PROVEN MODEL OF PROVIDING OFF SITE SERVICES AND COST-EFFECTIVE LEGAL ASSISTANCE THROUGH VOLUNTEERS AND PARTNERSHIPS. JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THIS IS NORIANA HERMES, ARIZONA COORDINATOR FOR CITIZENSHIP NOW! WELCOME TO 'HORIZONTE'.
NORIANA HERMES: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: THIS, I UNDERSTAND, IS A MODEL THAT EXISTED FOR 20 MRUS YEARS IN NEW YORK CITY?
NORIANA HERMES: YES, IN NEW YORK CITY THEY HAVE BEEN PROVIDING FREE LEGAL SERVICE FOR 20 YEARS.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: AND IN ARIZONA JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO?
NORIANA HERMES: YES, WE STARTED IN SEPTEMBER.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: WHY THE EXPANSION?
NORIANA HERMES: STLZ THERE IS A NEED. THERE ARE OVER 130,000 PEOPLE THAT QUALIFY FOR CITIZENSHIP BUT HAVE YET TO APPLY.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: THESE ARE PEOPLE LEGALLY HERE AND THEY DECIDED THEY WANT TO BECOME CITIZENS?
NORIANA HERMES: THAT IS CORRECT.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: HOW DOES THE WORK?
NORIANA HERMES: WE MEET THEM, GIVE INSTRUCTIONS, AND TELL THEM WHAT DOCUMENTS TO BRING AND HOPEFULLY WE CAN GET THE APPLICATION OUT IN TWO ONE-HOUR APPOINTMENTS.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: AND THE PROCESS INVOLVES THEM BRINGING YOU DOCUMENTS. HOW DO THEY KNOW WHAT TO BRINK TO YOU?
NORIANA HERMES: WHEN THEY CALL THE OFFICE, OUR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT INFORMS THEM AND TELLS THEM WHAT TYPE OF DOCUMENTS THEY NEED AND ANYTHING THEY NEED TO HAVE ACCESS TO REGARDING POSSIBLY GOING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF SAFETY AND GETTING A BUDGET LETTER AND SO ON.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU HAVE STAFFED?
NORIANA HERMES: I HAVE TWO PARA LEGALS AND AN ADMIN PERSON. WE ARE BUILDING A VOLUNTEER CORE. WE HAVE ABOUT 25 REGISTERED VOLUNTEER TRAINEES AND 35 GENERAL VOLUNTEERS THAT HELP US.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: THERE IS A REACH OUT EFFORT TO PROMOTE THE PROGRAM?
NORIANA HERMES: YES. WE HAVE CONNECTIONS FOR EXAMPLE SUMMIT LAW SCHOOL, ASU LAW SCHOOL, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA. WE HAVE HAD EVENTS WITH OTHER MEDIA HAS BEEN THERE.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: I SAW VIDEO ABOUT THE KICKOFF AND YOU HAD CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS THERE. WHY WERE THEY THERE? WHAT WAS THE POINT OF HAVING THIS EVENT AND THE COUNCIL PEOPLE INVOLVED?
NORIANA HERMES: BOTH OF THEM HAVE BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF OUR INITIATIVE. WE WANTED TO FIND SOMEONE THE PUBLIC TRUSTED. IT MIGHT SOUND TOO GOOD TO BE FREE HAVING A FREE LEGAL SERVICE PROVIDER SO WE WANTED TO HAVE SOMEONE THE COMMUNITY TRUSTS. THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF FRAUD IN THE COMMUNITY.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: YOU MENTION FRAUD. ONE OF THE PROBLEMS IN THE PAST IS PEOPLE WHO IN LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES ARE LAWYERS BUT HERE THEY NOTARIZE DOCUMENTS. THEY ARE NOT LAWYERS. DO YOU END UP WITH PEOPLE WHO SAY I HAVE BEEN TO THIS PERSON WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO HANDLE MY PAPERS AND IT DIDN'T WORK.
NORIANA HERMES: ABSOLUTELY. WE SEE PEOPLE SPENDING HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TRYING TO SUBMIT THEIR APPLICATION AND IT GETS NOWHERE. IT GETS REJECTED AND SOMETIMES IT CAN HAVE WORSE CONSEQUENCES. THEY MIGHT LOSE RESIDENCY IF SOMEONE DOESN'T REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING WITH THE CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: YOU SAID THE LEGAL SERVICES THEMSELVES ARE FREE BUT THERE ARE COSTS INVOLVED?
NORIANA HERMES: YES. OUR SERVICE IS FREE BUT THE OFFICE OF IMMIGRATION THAT GRANTS THE CITIZENSHIP DOES CHARGE FOR EACH APPLICATION. IN DECEMBER IT WENT UP TO $725 BUT AT OUR OFFICE WE WILL ALSO EVALUATE EACH PARTICIPANT TO SEE IF THEY QUALIFY FOR A FEE WAIVER OR REDUCED APPLICATION.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: HOW OFTEN DO PEOPLE MEET THE CRITERIA FOR THE WAIVER?
NORIANA HERMES: I WOULD SAY CLOSE TO 90% OF PEOPLE THAT COME IN THE OFFICE ARE ABLE TO PROCESS THE APPLICATION WITHOUT PAYING.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL YOUR STAFF SEE ON ANY GIVEN DAY?
NORIANA HERMES: WE CAN SEE UP TO SIX PEOPLE. I WOULD SEE FOUR. AND REVISE EACH APPLICATION GOING OUT.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: DO YOU HAVE THAT MANY PEOPLE SHOWING UP EVERY DAY?
NORIANA HERMES: ROUGHLY AROUND THAT NUMBER, YES.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: YOU ALWAYS USE VOLUNTEER LAWYERS.

NORIANA HERMES: YES. WE USE THEM WHEN WE DO THE BIG CITIZENSHIP EVENTS. WE HAD ONE DECEMBER 10TH. EVERY VOLUNTEER LAWYER THAT GOES TO VOLUNTEER WITH CITIZENSHIP NOW, THE INITIATIVE, HAS TO TAKE A TRAINING AND ABIDE BY OUR POLICY AND PROCEDURE.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: WE TALKED ABOUT THE PROGRAM ITSELF AND ONE OTHER DETAIL BEFORE WE GET INTO THE PARTNERSHIP. WHERE IS THE LOCATED?
NORIANA HERMES: IT IS LOCATED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX. 714 EAST VAN BUREN. RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: CAN PEOPLE CALL UP AND SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT? DO YOU DO WALK-INS AS WELL?
NORIANA HERMES: WE DON'T DO WALK-INS. EVERYTHING IS BY APPOINTMENT. IF PEOPLE WAKE INTO THE OFFICE WE ARE HAPPY TO SCHEDULE FOR ANOTHER DAY.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: WHO IS INVOLVED IN THIS PARTNERSHIP AND HOW IS IT PROVIDED?
NORIANA HERMES: WE ARE FUNDED BY THE SAME SERVICES THAT FUNDED A MOBILE HEALTH COMMUNITY THAT CHECKS GLUCOSE AND EDUCATES THE COMMUNITY. SO WHEN WHY DID THE BIG EVENTS PEOPLE RECEIVED THEIR APPLICATION AND THEN WERE ABLE TO GET HEALTH SERVICES FOR FREE OUTSIDE THE MOBILE CLINIC.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: THAT IS THE BIG EVENTS. THIS ISN'T A REGULAR BASES? PEOPLE COME IN FOR CITIZENSHIP AND THAT IS WHAT THEY GET?
NORIANA HERMES: NORIANA HERMES: YES. BUT WE CAN REFER THEM TO THEY CAN LOOK AT THE CALENDAR AND SEE WHEN THEY CAN GET THE SERVICES.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: THIS IS PART OF ZUKER?
NORIANA HERMES: YES THAT IS CORRECT.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: IS THAT A NATIONAL ORGANIZATION?
NORIANA HERMES: IT IS FROM MEXICO BUT THEIR BIG OFFICE IS IN TEXAS.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: JUST ANOTHER QUESTION OR TWO. WHAT ARE YOU FINDING ARE THE BIGGEST CONCERNS PEOPLE HAVE AND MAYBE MORE SPECIFICALLY HAS THERE BEEN AN INCREASE IN PEOPLE SEEKING CITIZENSHIP SINCE THE ELECTION OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE ELECTION?
NORIANA HERMES: AFTER THE ELECTION THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASE IN PHONE CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS AND PEOPLE WANTING TO BECOME CITIZENS BEFORE JANUARY. BUT THE PROCESS MAKES A MONTH. WE DID A LOT OF APPLICATIONS BUT PEOPLE ARE STILL GETTING INTERESTED.
JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON 'HORIZONTE' TO TALK ABOUT THIS.
NORIANA HERMES: TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT 'HORIZONTE' GO TO AZPBS.ORG/'HORIZONTE' AND WATCH THE RECENT SHOWS, SERVE THE ARCHIVES OR FIND OUT WHAT IS ON 'HORIZONTE' FOR THE JOSÉ CÁRDENAS: UPCOMING WEEK. DIVE DEEPER INTO ISSUES BY VISITING OUR SPECIAL WEB SESSIONS THAT COVER THE ARTS, EDUCATION, IMMIGRATION, LEGISLATURE, SUSTAINABILITY AND THE SOUNDS OF CULTURA. WHILE YOU ARE THERE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR 'HORIZONTE' WITH ONE CLICK. VISIT AZPBS.ORG/HORIZONTE TODAY