With the fate of the program in the hands of the Supreme Court, advocacy groups found themselves with money and volunteers but nothing to do. Looking for other places to put their resources, they decided to work on gaining citizenship for immigrants who are residing in the U.S. legally but have not yet been naturalized.
In California alone, there are an estimated 2.2 million legal permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship but have not applied.
“What we can do right now is help people become citizens so that we can build political power while we’re waiting,” said Ramiro Funez, a spokesman for Unite Here, a union that represents hospitality workers, many of whom are immigrants. “It’s kind of one of the only options we have right now.”
His union has been holding citizenship workshops around the country, including one in Orange County over the weekend. In Nevada, a key battleground in presidential elections, Funez said the union is close to its goal of helping 2,000 people apply for citizenship in a two-month period that began March 1.