The Office of New Americans of Miami-Dade County (ONA), established to promote naturalization campaigns and citizenship events, recently partnered with Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF) to launch the Pathways to Citizenship program aimed at helping eligible permanent residents in Miami-Dade become U.S. citizens. HUF, a non-profit established in 1982, has empowered more than 400,000 individuals in South Florida during its 36-year history.
The Pathways to Citizenship program offers free weekly citizenship classes, assistance with the naturalization interview and application, and financial coaching. Classes are now open at numerous library locations: Little Havana, North Miami Beach, Homestead, Kendall, Miami, Aventura, Sunny Isles and Hialeah.
HUF is an Accredited Representative by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)—one of 20 organizations in South Florida that possess such designation. DOJ representatives, like immigration attorneys, are authorized to counsel, complete forms, and represent immigration clients during USCIS interviews.
“Miami-Dade County is proud to be a co-founder of the Office of New Americans, created to empower our local communities,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “Our new partnership with Hispanic Unity of Florida and Miami-Dade Public Libraries will bring the Pathways to Citizenship initiative to new heights, ensuring that Miami-Dade residents have the tools they need to realize their American dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data shows that more than 88,000 people obtained legal permanent resident (LPR) status in South Florida in 2016. That makes our region, the third highest ranking in the county for people obtaining LPR status, following New York City and Los Angeles.
In the last decade, HUF has empowered more than 12,000 aspiring citizens from more than 30 countries to achieve their goal of U.S. citizenship. In 2017, more than 5,000 eligible students attended citizenship classes at HUF and at partnering Broward and Miami-Dade libraries, and more than 30 trained volunteers contributed more than 2,300 hours as instructors last year.
“U.S. citizenship is a crucial step toward improving the social, civic, and economic well-being of children and families– as well as our communities,” said Josie Bacallao, President/CEO of HUF. “Thousands of aspiring citizens are ready to take this critical first step, but they lack the resources to do so. With 36 years of social and civic service to the community and more than a decade of citizenship work in South Florida, HUF is uniquely positioned, in this new partnership with ONA, to connect eligible residents with the resources to naturalize, and well as receive financial coaching and legal assistance.”
The Pathways to Citizenship program led by the Office of New Americans (ONA) of Miami-Dade County and Hispanic Unity of Florida, Inc. (HUF) is a county-wide initiative made possible with the support from our Corporate Founding Partner Citi Community Development and the generosity of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. Partners in Miami-Dade County include: Miami-Dade Public Library System and the City of North Miami Beach and their North Miami Beach Library. Media partners include Univision 23, UniMas 69, Amor 107.5, Mix 98.3, WQBA and Radio Mambi.