Hawaii’s largest Citizenship Workshop will help nearly 150 immigrants become U.S. citizens

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2018

Media Contact: Paola Rodelas
Mobile: (808) 333-4782

Hawaii’s largest Citizenship Workshop will help nearly 150 immigrants become U.S. citizens

Immigration advocates, volunteers organize Citizenship Workshop in response to DACA expiration

Honolulu, HI – Immigration attorneys, elected officials, and community organizations are joining UNITE HERE Local 5 in organizing a Citizenship Workshop to provide one-on-one assistance for nearly 150 legal permanent residents who want to apply for U.S. citizenship.

The Citizenship Workshop will take place on Saturday, March 3 from 8:00am – 4:00pm at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center (777 Ward Ave, Honolulu, HI 96814). The response from Hawaii’s immigrant community was so enthusiastic that organizers had to close registration early. Around 55,000 legal permanent residents live in Hawai’i.

The response from the broader community has been just as supportive—almost 200 people are signed up to volunteer at the Citizenship Workshop.

“The Citizenship Workshop was organized in response to the expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on March 5. We’re responding to all of the anti-immigration policies and rhetoric by helping nearly 150 immigrants become U.S. citizens,” says Paola Rodelas, a community organizer at UNITE HERE Local 5 who is co-organizing the workshop.

“The fact that so many immigrants and so many volunteers have signed up for this Citizenship Workshop shows where Hawai’i stands on immigration. Hawai’i was built on the backs of immigrants and continues to thrive because of our immigrant community. We stand with our immigrant communities and we support immigration reform,” says Amy Agbayani, former Chair of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission who is also co-organizing the workshop.

Lourdes Maquera, a housekeeper at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and her eldest daughter will be attending the Citizenship Workshop. “As a housekeeper in Hawaii’s number one industry, I am part of the backbone of Hawaii’s economy. As a single mother of three, my family depends on me. I am proud of the work I do and what I contribute to our community. I am so happy that this workshop will help my whole family become U.S. citizens so that we can continue to live here and thrive here,” says Lourdes.

The Citizenship Workshop is co-sponsored by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City and County of Honolulu, Catholic Diocese Office for Social Ministry, Hawai’i Coalition for Civil Rights, Hawaii Chapter: American Immigration Lawyers Association, Hawai’i J20, Hawai’i Peace and Justice, Hawai’i Friends of Civil Rights, and Pacific Gateway Center.

“The strength and foundation of our community is rooted in our history of immigration and our stories of struggle,” said Mayor Caldwell. “Now more than ever, we need to collectively stand up and support Hawai‘i’s immigrant families. We are happy to join Local 5 in addressing this important issue.”

Workshop organizers hope that this will be the first of many citizenship workshops. They also plan on reaching out to workshop attendees who become U.S. citizens about registering to vote.

**Note to media: Spokespersons will be available for interviews at 10:00 am on Saturday, March 3 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. We ask that members of the media be sensitive regarding the identity of people attending the Citizenship Workshop. There is a lot of fear in the immigrant community, and we would like to create as safe a space as possible. We request that you interview our designated spokespersons, rather than workshop attendees who may want to maintain their anonymity. We ask that you do not film or photograph the faces of workshop attendees unless you have their explicit permission. Thank you.

Local 5 represents approximately 11,000 workers throughout Hawaii who work in the hospitality, health care and food service industries and is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international union that represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.unitehere5.org.

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