Montgomery County is setting up “Countywide Citizenship Corners” in libraries and other area locations to encourage eligible immigrants to become naturalized citizens.
“The purpose of the Citizenship Corners is to get out information to our residents who are interested in becoming citizens,” said Diane Vy Nguyen-Vu, who leads the county’s citizenship initiative, along with the legal immigration service providers network.
“When legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens, our county thrives,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett in a press release. “We urge our residents to start the naturalization process and to only seek advice and citizenship application assistance from reputable service providers.”
Montgomery County is part the Cities for Citizenship initiative, which it joined in 2017, Vu explained. C4C is a national initiative of 67 participating cities and counties aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible permanent residents.
“The goal is to promote citizenship programs and to encourage residents who are eligible to apply to start the process,” Vu said. “[Citizenship Corners are] just a continuing part of that national campaign and partnership with these other jurisdictions.”
Vu said that there are about 50,000 residents in the county who are eligible to become naturalized citizens, and these programs are intended to get as much information to them as possible.
“In the light of everything that’s happening on the federal level, it’s really the only way for us to encourage our residents to protect their rights and to fully engage in life in Montgomery County civically, socially and economically,” she said.
Locally, Citizenship Corners have been set up in the Silver Spring and Long Branch libraries.
“The corners are a way to get information out to our residents,” Vu said. “Residents can go to the corners and find information and materials on the process, how they can apply, where they can apply, where classes are; they can find study materials. It’s really just kind of like a one-stop-shop hub for residents to go get information on how to become a citizen.”
The corners also have a list of all the legal immigration and citizenship providers in the county where residents can go get assistance, including detailed information on hours of availability and languages spoken.
“What we’re encouraging everyone to do is to get assistance, whether they believe they need assistance with their applications or not,” Vu said. “It’s good to sit down with someone who can provide them with legal advice.
“In this day and age, sadly, we know that the chance for fraud will go up,” she added. “So we want our residents to get information from trusted places.”
At the same time, since joining C4C the county has been working with nonprofit partners and Montgomery College to increase the number of citizenship classes, workshops and information sessions for interested residents.
The county also is working on getting people from its partners to be on site at certain hours in the Citizenship Corners and be available to answer questions or provide other assistance, Vu said.
The information in the corners is updated monthly and more sites will be added. Updates on the locations will be available on the website of the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center or by calling 240-777-4940.
Shown is the header of the Citizenship Corners poster from Montgomery County.