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Miami, Apr 29 (EFE).- The Catholic archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski, announced Monday together with lawmakers and several community organizations a project to process free of charge applications for U.S. citizenship for 1,000 permanent residents.
The one-day Citizenship Mega Workshop is set for June 22 and is part of the New Americans Campaign.
The promoters of the project told a press conference about the benefits citizenship can bring to the mostly Hispanic immigrants who are permanent residents, and noted the growing influence of the Latino vote and the community's important contribution to the progress of the U.S. economy.
Wenski regretted that every year only 8 percent of immigrants eligible for citizenship complete the process. According to official figures, in South Florida alone some 350,000 permanent residents are eligible to become citizens.
Speaking in similar terms was David Castellon, director of the Read2Succeed group, one of the promoters of the project.
In a statement to Efe he said that "national policy has been influenced considerably by the Latino vote and we want to maintain the momentum we achieved in the last elections."
Natalia Jaramillo, communications coordinator of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, told Efe of her "enormous satisfaction" at the "positive words" of Wenski and Miami-area U.S. Reps. Frederica Wilson and Joe Garcia.
Jaramillo agreed with the lawmakers present at the conference on "how difficult it is for legal residents to become citizens due to the high cost" of the procedure - $690 - and other bureaucratic obstacles.
"In 2011, out of the 1.2 million permanent residents in South Florida, some 700,000 were elibible to apply for citizenship, but only 11 percent of them were naturalized," she said.