CUNY/Daily News Call-In Helped 15,308 Callers
May 7, 2008
During the week of April 28, the CUNY/Daily News Citizenship Now! Call-In helped 15,308 immigrants from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other states, answering their immigration related questions. This year's event brought the total number of individuals assisted since the call-in began, five years ago, to more than 55,000. Close to 350 volunteers provided this service, most of them trained by the CUNY Citizenship and Immigration Project.
James Counihan, Director of Constituent Services for
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez's Office, and other members of the office are
long-time volunteers at the call-in. He
said about his experience this year that he "got phone calls from Florida, Kentucky, and Massachusetts... This
demonstrates immigrants' need nationwide for information on the naturalization
process and other immigration matters. CUNY and the Daily News are providing a
service that is greatly needed and valued."
Visiting the call-in, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg greeted volunteers and commented to the Daily News on the need for immigrants in this country and how "lack of the Congress's willingness to address the controversial issue is symptomatic of exactly the dysfunction that Washington finds itself in. Except that this time, this is really very damaging to us."
The most common questions asked by callers were the requirements and steps for naturalization, what to do about stalled applications, the possibility of obtaining citizenship in time to vote in November's election, how travel affects one's ability to naturalize, how to determine good moral character, and the rules regarding citizenship for children.
Numerous dignitaries visited the call center throughout the week, including New York State Senator Charles Schumer, New York State Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights), Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Guillermo Linares, Consul General of Mexico Ruben Beltrán, and John Catsimatidis, CEO of the Red Apple Group and Gristedes Foods.
When Senator Schumer stopped by and spoke with volunteers on Friday, he hailed volunteering and immigration as "two great American traditions" and described how, "we take people from all over the world, and they go through the tube called New York. And New York changes them . . . into Americans. And it takes just a short period of time and then they, and often their children, sally forth around the country and do great things."