Hispanic Center assists dozens in quest for citizenship

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The Hispanic Center of Jonesboro assisted dozens of people Saturday trying to become U.S. citizens.

Organizers say they saw a great need to assist the area's large population of legal, permanent residents, so Hispanic Community  Services, Inc. hosted a citizenship workshop.

The group partnered with several organizations for the event, including the Arkansas United Community Coalition. The coalition has sponsored several workshops around the state, but volunteers expected to help about 50 people locally start the naturalization process.

Mireya Reith, the coalition's executive director, says the event also helps dispel some misconceptions.

"So many people kind of opt themselves out of taking this step because they don't realize how accessible the process is and fear sometimes of having to go to an immigration attorney, where they can spend hundreds to thousands of dollars," Reith said. "For us to be able to do this is a pro bono manner, to build awareness and support, we're encouraged by the results we've seen today and even more so by the results we expect in the future."

Reith hopes to make the citizenship workshop an annual event in Jonesboro.

Gina Gomez, the executive director of Hispanic Community Services, also plans to host citizenship classes in July, where people can come and prepare to take the final test to become a U.S. citizen.

"Bringing all these programs and free assistance for them, that makes it easier for them to get their citizenship," Gomez explained, "and, in the future if they would like to vote, that would be great for them."

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