May 2, 2007—Baruch Professor of Law Allan Wernick’s face is familiar to readers of his popular immigration advice column in the New York Daily News, but he’s not the only person from Baruch helping the newest New Yorkers to feel at home in the city. Beginning on Monday, April 30 and continuing until Friday, May 5, Wernick and nearly 200 other immigration counselors—several of them Baruch graduates and staff members—join forces to answer questions from the public during Citizenship Now!, an annual collaboration between the City University of New York and the Daily News.
The call-in service, now in its fifth year of operation, encourages immigrant New Yorkers to begin the process of naturalization by offering free advice on filing forms and helping callers determine their status. With recent insinuations that Congress will increase the fees paid by permanent residents who want to become citizens in June, advice for aspiring citizens is more timely than ever.
Callers submit their immigration questions by telephone to advisors, several of whom are bi- or multilingual. In response to the program’s growing popularity, the service doubled the number of telephone lines to 48. Half of the phones will be devoted to answering callers’ questions in Spanish. Among the counselors manning the phones that have Baruch connections are:
Angelo Cabrera, a political science student in the Weissman School and president of CUNY’s Mexican-American Student Alliance;
Marilyn Gaffney, a secretary in Baruch’s Provost Office who helps foreign faculty members file their immigration forms;
Cora Jordan, an international student adviser at Baruch;
Jeanie Pearson-Gray, a SEEK program counselor at Baruch with more than 10 years of advisement experience;
Patricia Johnson, a counselor in Baruch’s Student Development and Counseling Department with more than 30 years of experience with the SEEK program;
David Sturniolo, a Baruch alumnus and communications assistant for the CUNY Citizenship and Immigration Project.
The volunteer advisors are drawn from a variety of community organizations, with a substantial number of them coming from CUNYâ€™s administrative staff. Cora Jordan, an international student adviser at Baruch and volunteer Citizenship Now! counselor, says that the service allows her to extend her work expertise from Baruch to New Yorkers in general. “It’s a fulfilling way to contribute to the community by helping people to become citizens. For instance, we advise people on what to do to check on the status of an application, or what steps they need to take to ensure they are eligible to become citizens.”
To listen to a podcast of Wernick discussing highlights of this yearâ€™s Citizenship Now! sessions, go to http://www1.cuny.edu/portal_ur/news/radio/podcast/citizenship_32.mp3. To read more about the volunteers in the Citizenship Now! project, visit http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2007/04/29/2007-04-29_meet_the_volunteers.html.
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