Nonprofits See More Interest In Becoming US Citizen (Matthew Torres, News Channel 5)

Posted 02/07/2017

Since the start of the year, nonprofit organizations in Nashville are seeing more people interested in the naturalization process.

The Nashville Adult Literacy Council Executive Director Kim Karesh told NewsChannel 5 that the organization currently has 60 people enrolled in its citizenship classes. Karesh said that is up to a 20% increase within the last few years.

The NALC provides six 12-week courses, funded by a grant from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and donations, to prepare immigrants with a green card prior to the application process.

"People will come to us and we'll help with the few basic things to become a US citizen," Karesh said. "We help them with reading and writing in English and then teach them history, government and civics."

She has also noticed that immigrants who have lived in the country for decades are now taking classes as well. There are several possible reasons in the slight increase including increased fees, more free available resources and the current political climate.

"There's a lot more attention around immigration so there could be an interest because of that as well," Karesh added.

The Catholic Charities of Tennessee has also seen a slight uptick in inquiries. Leaders say there has been a 15% increase in phone calls from people asking about citizenship. Questions range from eligibility to the type of paperwork and fee amount.

"More people are exploring getting screened to see if there is a path to citizenship for them. Anytime there's a change in administration or policy, people get a little more motivated" Kellye Branson, Director of Refugee and Immigration Services, told NewsChannel 5.

The program has a trained staff that file documents under the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

In 2016, Catholic Charities had 171 citizenship applications filed. To learn more information about the program, click on this link.

The Nashville Adult Literacy Council has upcoming enrollments in the coming months and also offers one-on-one tutoring classes through its 600-volunteer database. Click on this link for more information.


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