The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

January 21, 2010

Program to help immigrants achieve dream

Sam Houston State University and the Huntsville Public Library are partnering to help bring the American dream to local immigrants who hope to become United States citizens.

The free, five-week course begins Feb. 8 and will be held Monday nights through March 8.

The deadline for signing up is Feb. 5.

The program will help guide immigrants through the citizenship process, covering eligibility, paperwork, interviews, and the Naturalization Exam.

“This is the third year we have partnered with the Huntsville Public Library on this program,” said Junior Fellow President Daniel North, “and it has worked out very well.

“Richard Lane (the Library’s Literacy Coordinator) is always great to work with, and several of the participants have gone on to earn their U.S. citizenship. That benefits everyone.”

The program begins with a session covering an overview of the administrative process of becoming a citizen, followed by a series of programs that cover the material on the Naturalization Exam.

The sessions alternate between presentations on U.S. history and government by SHSU Professor Mike Yawn and individualized breakout sessions led by local residents.

In the past, for example, Huntsville community leaders Stephanie Brim and Marta Edwards helped lead the breakouts alongside the Political Science Junior Fellows.

The fifth and final session features an immigration lawyer who discusses the legal aspects of the process. But the highlight of the last week is the “Thanksgiving” feast, with immigrants and volunteers bringing meals from their native countries to share.

“This was a particularly special project for me, “said Junior Fellow Cameron Goodman. “As an immigrant who wants to become a U.S. citizen, it is especially meaningful to be able to help others with the same goal.”

In the past two years, participants included immigrants from 15 countries, including Pakistan, Great Britain, Mexico, Canada, El Salvador, Germany, Columbia and The Netherlands.

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