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Diocese considers alternatives for future of Catholic schools

Graduate becomes
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Holy Spirit School

St. Felicitas Kinder 'stars' have their
own singing nun

Grandparents Day
in Martinez

Art of the heart

Leaders share a commitment to
Catholic education

St. Paul opens
new Media Center

Church continues
to rely on basics,
faith and funding

Pope goes back to school, meets students, community in Harlem

Musical unity a feature of Chautauqua celebration

Blue Mass honors police, firefighters,

Free help for applicants for U.S. citizenship at the cathedral Oct. 17

Laudato Si topic
of Day of Reflection

Dorothy Day's granddaughter
to speak at
Berkeley parish

Sister M. Ruth
Faisca, SHF

Pro-life a way of life
for self-described
'Fool for Christ'

Order of Malta
Clinic: Free health
care for poor

Carondelet Sisters maintain strong presence

Marist Sisters take
on multitude
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New leaders named
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Nun on the Bus
coming to Bay Area
on Oct. 16

placeholder October 5, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 17   •   Oakland, CA
Free help for applicants for U.S. citizenship at the cathedral Oct. 17

More than 100,000 people in the East Bay may be just 21 pages away from citizenship.

An Oct. 17 event at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland — Diocese of Oakland Free Citizenship Application & Fee Waiver Assistance Day — seeks to offer a hand in getting those applications moving.

Citizenship help

What: Diocese of Oakland Free Citizenship Application & Fee Waiver Assistance

When: Oct. 17, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Where: Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland

Want to volunteer?
Want help with papers?

Contact: jsullivanhalpern@cceb.org
or 510-768-3166
With Catholic Charities of the East Bay taking the lead, it's a project of the East Bay Naturalization Cooperative.

"Our goal is to try to naturalize as many people as possible," said Christopher Martinez, program director of Catholic Charities of the East Bay.

"We try to facilitate that process," Martinez said of the cooperative, of which Catholic Charities is a member. "We're all coming together as legal services," he said. "People can come to us and walk out with completed paperwork," he said.

The other groups are East Bay Sanctuary Covenant; International Institute of the Bay Area, Centro Legal de la Raza; the Korean Community Center of the East Bay; Jewish Family and Children's Services of the East Bay; International Rescue Committee; and Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach.

With six staff attorneys helping clients in Oakland, Richmond, Concord and Hayward, Catholic Charities of the East Bay is the largest provider of legal immigration services in the East Bay.

There are an estimated 170,000 permanent legal residents of the United States living in the East Bay.

"These are people who have green cards," he said.

What keeps them from continuing on to citizenship, he said, could be "mistrust, fear or cost."

The cost is $680, Martinez said, and that does not include legal representation.

Low-income people who meet special criteria based on the federal poverty guidelines are eligible to apply for a fee waiver.

With help from about 200 volunteers, the cooperative hopes to help up to 1,000 people fill out the paperwork that will begin the path to citizenship. The effort has enlisted the assistance of the deacon community, but with the need so great, additional volunteers will be required to assist with greeting, screening, running, form filling, document preparation and legal consultation.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the event can contact Jason Sullivan-Halpern at jsullivanhalpern@cceb.org or 510-768-3166 to register.

Those seeking assistance can make an appointment, but drop-ins are welcome. Doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those who check-in will receive a packet, and assistance at various points in filling out the 21 pages of paperwork — additional if the fee waiver applies.

Within a month after the application has been sent — they recommend certified mail — a notice of receipt arrives. Later, there's an invitation for photos and fingerprinting. If there are no legal impediments, the applicant is called for an interview, civics test and an English test.

Why does the church care about immigration policies?

The Catholic Church has historically held a strong interest in immigration and how public policy affects immigrants seeking a new life in the United States.

Based on Scriptural and Catholic social teachings, as well as her own experience as an immigrant Church in the United States, the Catholic Church is compelled to raise her voice on behalf of those who are marginalized and whose God-given rights are not respected.

The Church believes that current immigration laws and policies have often led to the undermining of immigrants' human dignity and have kept families apart. The existing immigration system has resulted in a growing number of persons in this country in an unauthorized capacity, living in the shadows as they toil in jobs that would otherwise go unfilled. Close family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents must wait years for a visa to be reunited. And, our nation's border enforcement strategies have been ineffective and have led to the death of thousands of migrants.

The Church has a responsibility to shine the message of God on this issue and help to build bridges between all parties so that an immigration system can be created that is just for all and serves the common good, including the legitimate security concerns of our nation.

From the website of the Diocese of Buffalo

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