The New York Daily News and City University of New York’s 10th Annual Citizenship NOW! hotline helped its 100,000 caller this week. Over the past ten years, the Citizenship NOW! hotline has provided callers with free immigration information as they travel the complex road to citizenship.
The 100,000th caller, a housekeeper who was born in the Dominican Republic, was just one of the thousands of callers to the Citizenship Now! hotline this week. The 56-year-old mother who now lives in the Bronx said, “I want my voice to be heard, and I want my vote to count because that way I can make a difference.”
Citizenship NOW was co-launched by the Daily News and CUNY in April 2004 to address the lack of access to free immigration information for the people who need it most.
This year’s week-long hotline is in operation from Monday, April 23 to Friday, April 27, between 9am and 7pm, with over 400 trained counselors available by telephone over the course of the week. Calls will be answered in English and Spanish, as well as numerous other languages, including; Mandarin or Cantonese, Russian, Korean, Italian, Haitian Creole, Bengali, Polish, French, Yiddish, and Arabic.
Participating volunteers come from the Legal Aid Society, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the New York Immigration Coalition, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY Citizenship Now! Immigration Centers, CUNY campuses, and many other community-based organizations and elected officials offices.
WXTV Univision 41 and WADO 1280 AM Radio provide extensive outreach every year to the Hispanic community as the Spanish-language media partners for the program. WXTV has been a partner of the program for the past six years. The station’s coverage includes live-coverage, on-air promotional announcements, and special news segments. This year’s sponsors include AILA, the Legal Aid Society, BlueWater, a Presidio Company and Gristedes.
The Citizenship NOW! hotline is led by Allan Wernick, an attorney and director of CUNY Citizenship Now! Wernick is a Professor of Law at Baruch College and he writes the weekly “Immigration Advice” column for the Daily News, as well as the nationally syndicated column, “Immigration and Citizenship.”
“This is a special year for the Citizenship NOW! program as we celebrate assisting over 100,000 people with their immigration questions after a decade of commitment to one of the most important issues on the political scene,” Professor Wernick said. “There are an estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., with some 800,000 in the New York area. Access to free immigration and citizenship information and assistance is greatly needed for the thousands of immigrants that arrive in the city every year, which is evident in the success of this program.”
The call-in numbers for the Citizenship NOW! Immigration Hotline are available in the New York Daily News, at www.nydailynews.com, www.cuny.edu/citizenshipnow/call-in and on WXTV Univision 41. TTY/TTD is also available.