U.S Citizenship Program
Monterey Counties Free Libraries (MCFL), the Andy Ausonio Library offers assistance with the naturalization process through the U.S. Citizenship Program. Preparation classes, completing the N-400 Form, review of civic questions, study materials, assistance with paperwork, tutoring, and practice interviews.
Recent News Article:
Featured in the Salinas Californian are Sally Childs, Homework Center Coordinator/Librarian, and Luis Arreguin, Volunteer for DACA Assistance/U.S. Citizenship Instructor from North Monterey County Unified School District.
(Californian, 8 Jan 2021).
DACA Assistance- Luis Arreguin (831) 595-1740
Enrollment- Mr. Jose Yáñez (831) 287-4570
Library offers citizenship help
Assistance available at Castroville branch
USA TODAY NEWORKS
The pandemic brought many challenges to public service programs across the country.
Some of these programs and resources are still thriving and leading by example, including Castroville Library’s U.S. Citizenship Program.
U.S. Citizenship Program
Since the statewide shutdown, the Castroville Branch, Andy Ausonio Library has continued offering its U.S. Citizenship Program.
The program was started in 2010 by Sally Childs, library assistant and Homework Center coordinator. The program offers classes, help with citizenship paperwork, exam tutoring, and interview practice.
The U.S. Citizenship program meets virtually and in-person day. The in-person learning is held outside of the library for interview practice and participants follow social distancing protocols.
“Is not only that they need to know the 128 questions. That is (a) misconception; that if you know the 128 questions it’s official. If you know your personal information you’re going to pass,” and Luis Arreguin, NMCUSD U.S. Citizenship instructor. “They need to show they have basic English conversation skills. When they meet the officer in the waiting room, that’s the time when the officer starts evaluating the English skills of the applicant.”
Not only does the program serve students of all ages, but students come from across Monterey County.
All prints and assistance for completing the N-400 Application for U.S. Naturalization are free. The filing fee of the application can cost $640, and with an $85 biometric fee costing up to $725 in total.
Applicant who choose to get an attorney would most likely end up paying more money just in attorney fees.
The Castroville program has approximately 25 to 30 new U.S. Citizens per year, according to Arreguin.
Some potential residents waiting longer because they lack English Language skills, but Arreguin encourages those wanting to become U.S. Citizens to apply and attend the Castroville program.
“There are many students in the area who are reluctant to take the interview in English because they feel they are not going to pass,” he said. “They can pass the English interview to get their citizenship. They don’t need to wait to turn 50 years old, it’s a lot of time that they wait for this opportunity.”
Arreguin credits Childs with the work he’s done. He said he is inspired by her love for the community and dedication to her work.
“Sally Childs, a white female in this community, is very loved (by) these people because she loves our community. She loves immigrants. She loves minorities and that’s something we appreciate a lot in this community,” he said.
For more information on the U.S. Citizenship program enrollment process, contact Maximina Cortez, the Administrative Assistant at North Monterey County Unified School district at (831) 633-4333 ext.1227.
DACA Application Assistance
In July, changes to Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program were announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Since the announcement, there have been may concerns.
Those changes included the rejection of all first time DACA application and instead of having to apply every two years, recipients were required to apply annually.
But those changes were rejected on Dec. 7, after a U.S. District Court order was issued to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
With confusion still lingering, Arreguin, who also volunteers at the Family Resource Center, hopes potential DACA applicants and current recipients will go to him for help.
He was working outside of the library, but the winter weather sometimes made it impossible to work.
So, Arreguin reached out for help.
Diana Jimenez, LULAC North Monterey County Chapter president and Noemy Loveless, NMSUSD Assistant Superintendent for Student and Family Services, helped come up with a solution.
There is now a mall space inside the Castroville Plaza Family Resource Center where Arreguin can speak with those interested in DACA services.
He is at the resource center from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday. No appointments are needed.
In the last two weeks, there have been 14 new DACA applicants, and one renewal currently in process, according to Arreguin.
“Most of the DACA applicants in this area are a different kind of Dreamer, they are not the Dreamers that you see on TV,” he said. “These are people who work in the fields. They comply with most of the requirements to get the DACA status and the thing they need is education. Many of them only finished a few years of school in Mexico. Fortunately, the school district opened the GED class for them to start learning.”
“They deserve this opportunity too,” he said.
For more information on DACA assistance contact volunteer, Luis Arreguin (831) 595-1740 or Visit Castro Plaza Family Resource Center.
Castro Plaza encompasses an entire block between Preston and McDougall St. The facility includes; Supervisor, John M. Phillips (District 2), Andy Ausonio Library, and the Child/Family Resource Center.