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EAST LOS ANGELES : Workshops Offered on Citizenship

May 21, 1995

The Hollenbeck Youth Center on Sunday will host the first of a series of workshops on the Eastside to help people obtain U.S. citizenship.

The workshops, which cost $50, will run through the summer, although the schedule for the rest of the sessions has not been announced. Representatives from several Eastside and Latino organizations will help people complete paperwork and study for the citizenship exam administered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The community workshops were planned to help people who are fearful of visiting the federal offices in Downtown Los Angeles, said Mike McClure, Hollenbeck Youth Center program director.

Workshops held in other communities have attracted hundreds of applicants, he said.

An orientation session will advise applicants of their rights and responsibilities in becoming citizens, said Irene Wongpec of Las Damas de Cuala de Nayarit, a community group involved in the workshops.

"They have to know it's a responsibility to be a part of this society," Wongpec said. "We have to know exactly what to expect and what we owe too."

One of the biggest fears among applicants is the citizenship exam, which tests knowledge of American history and English proficiency.

"People think that they're going to crucify them," she said. "We explain that actually the exam is not something from another world. They have to have some knowledge of English, but they don't have to be bilingual."

Aside from paperwork, organizers will take pictures and fingerprints for the application and send the completed package to the INS. The INS processing fee is $95.

Other workshops this summer will be organized by the California Immigrant Workers Assn., the National Assn. of Latino Elected Officials and Building Up Los Angeles.

Sunday's workshop begins at 9 a.m. at the youth center, 2015 E. 1st St.

Information: (213) 222-0543.

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