State can fund expansion of naturalization support

Before the current Washington state Legislature are opportunities to expand naturalization services to more people who are eligible to become U.S. citizens.

There are some people who think that legal immigrants entering the U.S. can automatically become U.S. citizens. This is not true. There is a very thorough screening process as part of the application process that includes criminal background checks — including offenses such as driving under the influence of alcohol or domestic violence — finger printing and other things.

Because of the complex and thorough process including the need to pass a civics exam, immigrants seek help from local community-based organizations such as Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest (RISNW) to complete the application process, receive civics instruction and other support to prepare and achieve U.S. citizenship.

Immigrants and refugees have been huge contributors to the building and success of the U.S. The opportunity to become a U.S. citizen is also one important step toward achieving the American dream. It gives them access to certain jobs and protections under the law that native born U.S. citizens receive.

So we support the expansion of funding being considered by the Legislature that would support naturalization programs such as the one administered by OneAmerica. It will make a difference to our community members who need help from trusted organizations like RISNW who, in turn, can expand their naturalization services to serve more people.

Kamal Acharya

Immigrant Services Northwest

Everett

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