On Tuesday, September 17, our country celebrated Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. During Constitution Week, from September 16 to September 23, more than 18,000 people will become citizens during approximately 180 naturalization ceremonies across the country and overseas.
A naturalization ceremony is a joyous and moving event, which all Americans should have the opportunity to witness. Immigrants from countries near and far vow to support and defend the Constitution, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and proudly wave the American flag. For most new citizens, getting to this milestone is the result of hard work and preparation.
English Skills Learning Center (ESLC) and Catholic Community Services of Utah (CCS), we together provide lawful permanent residents with the support they need to be successful on their path to citizenship. It is a privilege to work with these aspiring citizens, and we now have an even greater ability to assist those in our local community through a generous grant from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
English Skills Learning Center and our sub-awardee Center and Catholic Community Services of Utah are one of 40 organizations across the country to receive this competitive grant award. The funding we will receive, totaling approximately $250,000, will help support our citizenship preparation services for the next two years. Moreover, ESLC will offer one-on-on tutoring and small-group citizenship preparation classes to help 400 legal permanent residents prepare for citizenship test in Salt Lake County. CCS, as the grant’s sub-awardee will provide legal services for 500 legal permanent residents.
This is the fifth year USCIS has awarded grants to expand the availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services for lawful permanent residents across the nation. With this USCIS grant, our efforts will have a larger impact in helping some of our fellow community members achieve their dream of U.S. citizenship. By helping immigrants improve their English language skills and learn about our country’s history and government, and the rights and responsibilities that define citizenship, we will help them civically integrate – and that’s good for us all.
With civic integration comes participation – in service groups, school boards, homeowners associations, charitable organizations and many other worthy causes. This citizen-driven community participation is a hallmark of what makes this country great.
ESLC and CCS are proud to be a part of a process that is so important for our country and for our community and look forward to serving 500 people as they pursue their own dream of becoming U.S. citizens in the next two years.