Director's Corner

Volunteer Corps

Allan WernickThis month we initiate a new feature in our newsletter, “Director’s Corner.” Each month I will write about developments at CUNY Citizenship Now. I will also comment on legal and legislative issues impacting immigrants. Occasionally, I will invite Citizenship Now staff to write a guest column.

CUNY Citizenship Now! has accomplished many things over the years, but nothing more important than the creation of the CUNY/NYC Citizenship Corps. The Corps is the largest, best-trained and most active group of legal volunteers in the country. The Corps was founded as a joint project of CUNY and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and it is because of the Corps that Citizenship Now! is able to provide high-quality and free legal citizenship application assistance to thousands of New Yorkers. People marvel at how Citizenship Now! can help so many people on a low cost-per-participant basis. The key is the Citizenship Corps.

We are working hard to improve the quality of Corps members’ experience and the quality of services members provide. Most of you know by now that Citizenship Now! has a new volunteer coordinator, Stina Rosenquist. Stina, our Legal Coordinator Tamara Bloom, and our Interim Legal Director Tom Shea increased our trainings so that volunteers can take advantage continuous training on immigration issues. Tamara Bloom, our legal coordinator, will be back soon from family leave (she is now mom to a beautiful baby girl). You will be seeing her too at community events. Our goal is to continue to have at least one training per month in order to advance Corps members understanding of citizenship and naturalization law.

While we strengthen our efforts to help New York’s permanent residents naturalize, our eye is on the Congressional debate over immigration reform. Despite some reluctance from House Republicans, I remain convinced that Congress will send President Obama a bill with a path to citizenship for undocumented workers before year’s end. Citizenship Now! is planning for reform and we expect the Citizenship Corps to play a major role in providing free services to New York’s undocumented immigrants. We will make sure to offer trainings for you to stay up-to-date with changes in the immigration laws.

Stay tuned.

Allan Wernick
CUNY Citizenship Now!