52,000 Legal Immigrants Living in the County Could Benefit from Citizenship Services, Classes provided by We Are One NJ
ELIZABETH, NJ – The state’s second labor-supported immigrant advocacy center opened Tuesday, April 21, 2015, at the Jersey Gardens Mall, as the result of a unique partnership between Union County and We Are One New Jersey, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping more than 400,000 legal immigrants living and working in New Jersey become U.S. citizens.
We are One New Jersey – Union County Center provides U.S. citizenship application assistance, including preparatory classes for the citizenship test and referral, notary and translation services, at low- or no-cost to Union County residents.
The kickoff ceremony for the We Are One New Jersey – Union County Center was attended by more than 100 political, labor, community and civic leaders, who also helped launch the county’s Workforce Innovation Business (WIB) Center. The WIB facility, which is sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and shares office space with We Are One New Jersey – Union County Center, provides occupational and soft skills training and jobs placement for Union County residents.
“Union County is living proof that diversity and inclusiveness go hand in hand with a dynamic economy, a thriving cultural sphere, and opportunities to achieve and give back to the community,” said Mohamed S. Jalloh, chairman of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, who served as the event’s master of ceremonies.
“As the son of an immigrant, this has been my firsthand experience, so when Senator Lesniak called me about joining We are One New Jersey with my Workforce Innovation Business Center initiative, the potential for great synergy between the two programs was immediately apparent. I am very proud to partner Union County with We Are One New Jersey to help make the promise of a better life become a reality for many more Union County residents,” said Jalloh, who announced the initiatives during his reorganization in January.
“These community-based centers are important additions in our ongoing effort to build and engage new communities,” said Charles Wowkanech, chairman of We Are One New Jersey. “We all live and work with people who are in this country legally but cannot fully participate in their communities because they are not U.S. citizens.”
“Wave after wave of immigrants have continued to renew Union County and shape America. The We Are One New Jersey – Union County Center will provide assistance that will help naturalize these immigrants, and enable and empower them to build stronger communities, and productive lives.” state Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak said.
“The City of Elizabeth is proud to work with the County of Union on this new initiative,” said Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. “The process associated with becoming a U.S. citizen can be complicated. However, guidance, assistance and reliable resources are available within our community. The We Are One New Jersey – Union County Center will connect individuals with dedicated professionals, who have the experience and expertise required to address concerns, while providing the assistance needed to help residents achieve their goals.”
Some 52,000 Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) live in Union County, including diverse and vibrant populations of Colombians, Ecuadorians, Portuguese, Haitians, Filipinos and more.
We Are One New Jersey – Union County is the second labor-supported immigrant advocacy center in the state. The first We Are One Center opened in October in Jersey City. Citizenship classes and information clinics have already drawn hundreds from the community to the centers.
For more information on the programs and services available through We Are One New Jersey – Union County Center, call 908-355-4444 or email center Executive Director Elizabeth Montes at Elizabeth@weareonenj.org.