Fair helps legal permanent residents apply for citizenship | KOB 4
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Fair helps legal permanent residents apply for citizenship

Kai Porter
March 02, 2019 06:21 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Saturday the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center hosted the second annual "ABQ is Home" Citizenship and Civic Engagement Fair. Lawyers were on hand to answer questions and help with the citizenship application process.

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Luis Masias, from Albuquerque, has been a legal permanent resident for eight years. At the fair, he started the application process to become a naturalized citizen.

"I learned how surprisingly easy it was. I thought it would have taken a lot longer but it was pretty fast," Masias said. 

Masias is just one of the many permanent residents eligible for citizenship who attended the fair. 

"There are access to public benefits that are only available to citizens," said Laura Garcia with the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center. "It's a protection from deportation, even as a legal permanent resident in some cases you're still at risk of being sent back home to the country where you were born." 

Garcia says the biggest benefit of becoming a naturalized citizen is the right to vote. It's something that can help immigrants integrate with the rest of the community. 

"In becoming a citizen, people feel a lot more confident in being able to voice their own opinions and go to city hall meetings, or council meetings, they feel like they can actually have more of an impact," she said. 

It's estimated there are currently 47,000 legal permanent residents living in New Mexico that are eligible for citizenship. 

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Kai Porter

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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