Valley Interfaith Launches Drive for Citizenship

June 30, 2006

Source: The Brownsville Herald

On June 30, 2006 The Brownsville Herald reported, "Valley Interfaith is launching its first drive for citizenship since 1997 in an attempt to prevent individual immigrants from getting lost in the national debate on immigration. 'We want to provide some sort of relief against our national rhetoric of immigration bashing,' said Estela Sosa Garza, a McAllen leader with Valley Interfaith. Beginning Saturday, priests at member churches will implore their congregations to fill out surveys that will help Valley Inter-faith determine whether Valley [should] focus on helping undocumented workers gain legal residency or help legal residents gain citizenship, Sosa said. Previous citizenship drives in 1989 and 1997 helped more than 20,000 legal residents become U.S. citizens, Sosa said. Those drives offered classes in citizenship, English and preparing applications. Valley Interfaith in the past hired an attorney to train leaders in the finer points of making sure applications are complete, which leaders may do again, Sosa said. The exact form this drive will take depends in part upon what action Congress takes on immigration issues this year, she said. Whatever Congress does, the citizenship drive will go forward, she said. 'We live on the border, we're always going to see this as an issue, it doesn't matter if we build 20 foot walls, and so we're very realistic about it,' she said. 'What we want to do is help people who want to get on that path to citizenship.' The citizenship drive is part of a larger Valley Interfaith initiative designed to register 75,000 people to vote in the next two years."