Adams hosts first ‘embrace your hyphen’ citizenship drive

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna on Saturday hosted the inaugural “Embrace Your Hyphen” citizenship drive at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Adams said 30 participants received free assistance with their naturalization applications and had legal questions answered by experienced immigration attorneys.

According to an analysis by the Center for Migration Studies of New York, as of 2013, more than 200,000 Brooklynites were eligible for naturalization, with the largest such populations residing in Bensonhurst, Bushwick, East Flatbush, and Sunset Park.

“Our hyphens define us as proud members of the most diverse community in the world, where our many cultures contribute to the extraordinary success of One Brooklyn,” Adams said. “In Brooklyn, where generations of families from around the world have come in search of the American Dream, we know that citizenship offers enormous benefits, such as the right to vote, entry into public service, and participation in our civil society.

“I want to thank the attorneys and advocacy organizations who work every day on shepherding immigrant families through the naturalization process, especially at a time when our national discourse has proven hostile at times toward those seeking to legally become members of the patchwork quilt that is our American family,” he added. “Brooklyn Borough Hall will continue to be an extension of the welcoming arms that Lady Liberty extends far and wide from our harbor.”

“Borough President Adams and I applaud our partners and collaborators who have been working tirelessly to spread the word for our first citizenship drive here at Brooklyn Borough Hall,” Reyna said. “Brooklyn was built on the shoulders and by the contributions of immigrants.

“As a daughter of Dominican (Republic) immigrants and lifelong Brooklyn resident, I advocate for immigration reform that treats immigrants fairly — giving them a strong voice and path to an earned citizenship,” he added. “Our borough’s diversity adds to the greatness of our city and country.”

Organizations participating in Borough President Adams’ inaugural “Embrace Your Hyphen” citizenship drive included Catholic Migration Services; Central American Legal Assistance; Law Offices of Franklin S. Montero, LLC; Make the Road New York; National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO); New York Immigration Coalition; the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and Southside Community Mission.

“The Law Offices of Franklin S. Montero provides a specialized legal service that prioritizes each client,” said attorney Franklin S. Montero. “I am happy to join the ‘Embrace Your Hyphen’ citizenship drive to assist, free of charge, residents to fill out the naturalization application.”

“Eligible immigrant New Yorkers are feeling as enthusiastic as ever about becoming United States citizens and becoming further integrated into American society,” said Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York. “We’re thrilled that Borough President Adams and Deputy Borough President Reyna are taking the initiative to support people in this critical process.”

Roberto Frugone, northeast regional director for the NALEO Educational Fund, said New York City is home to nearly 700,000 lawful permanent residents (LPR) eligible to become US citizens.

“New York City’s eligible LPR community is as diverse and multi-lingual as the city they call home, but they remain limited in their civic participation,” he said. “The inaugural ‘Embrace Your Hyphen’ citizenship drive is an opportunity for eligible LPRs to receive free assistance with the naturalization application in their native language.”

In April, Adams and Make the Road New York launched “Faces of DAPA & DACA+,” a photo exhibit at Brooklyn Borough Hall featuring portraits and stories of individuals and families directly impacted by Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Expansion, administrative relief programs enacted by President Barack Obama that are currently being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court.