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September 15, 2017

Take Action Philly Celebrates National Citizenship Day

For Immediate Release: September 15, 2017

Contact: Ajeenah Amir, (215) 686-6210, Ajeenah.Amir@phila.gov

Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway, (215) 238-6342, mavakianhardaway@philabar.org

Take Action Philly Celebrates National Citizenship Day

PHILADELPHIA - In recognition of National Citizenship Day, September 17, the City and the Philadelphia Bar Association announce progress for Take Action Philly (TAP), an initiative uniting lawyers, government, community organizations and residents to protect and assist Philadelphia’s most vulnerable residents.

Since the beginning of the year, TAP efforts have helped more than 80 legal permanent residents (LPRs) complete their citizenship applications, and over 80 refugees adjust their status. These individuals represent 22 countries throughout the world. More than 130 attorneys have volunteered their time to guide residents through the complex process of applying for citizenship.

The next TAP citizenship screening will be held on Tuesday, October 10, from 5:30 - 8 p.m. at the Community College of Philadelphia, Winnet Student Life building, in the Great Hall, Room S2-19. Interested individuals can call 215-238-6301 for more information.

"TAP is a testament to the City and its legal community’s willingness to help those in times of need. This effort embodies our commitment to our immigrant communities and to truly being a welcoming City," said Miriam Enriquez, Director for the Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs. "Philadelphia has so much to offer its residents, and our ability to unite in times of hardship is why we are the City of Brotherly Love and sisterly affection."

"This truly has been a rewarding experience for all of the lawyers who have stepped up to volunteer and support our immigrant community," said Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Deborah R. Gross. "TAP has been a terrific partnership for our legal community, the City and the people who are benefitting from these naturalization and citizenship efforts."

September 17 marks Citizenship Day for Naturalize NOW, a national, nonpartisan effort encouraging eligible legal permanent residents to become a U.S. citizens. Philadelphia is one of 26 cities that have joined the Naturalize NOW campaign to mobilize one million people to apply for citizenship in 2017.

Take Action Philly (TAP) was created in January this year by the Philadelphia Bar Association, with the support of the City of Philadelphia and several non-profit and legal aid organizations. In February, TAP held its first convening focusing on immigrant and refugee issues facing our City. The Philadelphia legal community was represented by over 500 attorneys, reflecting a high interest to use their skills to help immigrants and refugees. In response, TAP coordinated a series of free citizenship screenings and clinics to assist with citizenship applications.

Beginning in March, The Philadelphia Bar Association organized a series of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) sessions, training approximately 300 volunteers, non-immigration attorneys on how to screen clients and complete naturalization applications to assist LPRs with filing for citizenship through a two-step process, screenings and clinics. Volunteer attorneys participate in one or both steps. During the screenings, attorneys work with eligible LPRs to assure they can proceed to completing and filing a citizenship application. The citizenship clinics provide successfully screened LPRs with one-on-one assistance from an attorney to complete their citizenship application. Attorneys also volunteered their time at refugee adjustment of status clinics. Refugees must adjust their status from refugee to legal permanent resident within a year of being in the United States. Screenings and the clinics are free, and 10 citizenship screenings and clinics, and three refugee clinics have been held throughout the city since they began in April.

National Citizenship Day falls within the city’s 2017 Welcoming Week Celebration. Welcoming Week celebrates how Philadelphia is an open, friendly, and welcoming environment for immigrants, refugees and people of all backgrounds. The activities and events provide U.S. and foreign-born residents an opportunity to explore other cultures — and to develop a deeper appreciation for one another. The full calendar of events is available at Phila.gov/welcomingweek2017.

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