“It’s why we became the largest, most dynamic, most diverse city in the nation and that is very important to recognize,” Schumer said of New York City’s willingness to welcome immigrants.
Cambia Tu Vida, which means “change your life,” is designed to encourage many of the city’s 500,000 legal permanent residents, who are eligible to become naturalized citizens, to do just that.
The campaign launch took place outside of Corona's Our Lady of Sorrows church, a parish with 9,000 immigrants, to highlight some of the benefits of U.S. citizenship for immigrants.
These benefits include increased economic opportunity, the ability to travel with a U.S. passport, access to full civic participation and a greater pathway to family reunification.
“It will bring millions out of the shadows so that they can become productive citizens and work and pay taxes and raise families and be able to go to good jobs and not be exploited,” Schumer said.
Still, the group recognized many obstacles that immigrants face on the road to naturalization such as language barriers and economic difficulties.
"It is very important that everyone apply," Bishop Nicolas Dimarzio noted. “It’s most important that we give people the opportunity to be helped.”
To help immigrants through this process, Catholic Migration Services has set up a hotline and plans to hold several of what the organization is calling free “mega-workshops” beginning this April.
“We say to those of you who want to be naturalized, don’t let the barrier stand in your way,” Schumer said. “We will help you make that goal which is very, very important.”
The senator also had a message for lawmakers in Washington and called on House Speaker John Boehner to bring the immigration bill up for a vote.
“We know today, if our immigration bill were put on the floor of the House of Representatives, it would pass,” he said. “I am not giving up on immigration reform. It is a passion for me.”
To learn more about Cambia Tu Vida, or to register for a mega-workshop, call the hotline at (855) 622-6242.