Our Newest Americans Celebrate Their Citizenship with Members of North Fresno Rotary

7.22.2011

Recently, our staff, board members, supporters, North Fresno Rotary Club members and local immigration officers celebrated the newest American citizens at Stone Soup Fresno’s community center. In addition, the staffs of Senator Michael Rubio and Assembly Member Henry T. Perea presented certificates recognizing our newest Americans.

For many Hmong refugees, citizenship creates opportunities to advance the integration of their families into the fabric of American life. Seven years ago, Fresno received an influx of 2,000 Hmong refugees from Thailand. New to America, many Hmong refugee families faced significant challenges in finding their places in a different world. But for these new citizens, the hard work has truly paid off.

Despite challenges learning English, Hmong adult students in Stone Soup’s ESL/Civics Education class have quickly caught on to American civics and history, learning their rights and responsibilities as American citizens. Families make daily trips from throughout Fresno County to attend the citizenship class on the Stone Soup campus. Parents completed at least 45 hours of in-class instruction studying 100 American history and civics questions and participated in mock interviews in preparation for the face-to-face interview with immigration officers. With dedication and hard work, Hmong refugee parents are leading the way for their families.

Upon five years after arrival, refugees have lawful permanent residency status and become eligible for naturalization. The naturalization process can take anywhere from three months to years. Once parents obtain naturalization, their children (born outside the U.S.) can become naturalized citizens through an additional application process.

The journey for new refugees becoming new Americans calls for communitywide support. We have been most fortunate to develop a strong relationship with the North Fresno Rotary Club. Rotary members have volunteered to conduct mock citizenship exams and to offer sponsorships providing students the support and motivation to excel. We are extremely grateful for their support.

We will begin our sixth group of parents in the upcoming months and look forward to sharing more with all of you.

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