Full Citizenship: From Reducing Barriers to Naturalization to Full Civic Participation

Nearly 9 million people are eligible to naturalize but less than 10% naturalize each year. Is citizenship a privilege limited to wealthy immigrants? How can we reduce barriers? What is being done to ensure that the over 13 million naturalized immigrants become both voters and active citizens? Participants will explore long-term relationship building strategies used by organizations to engage the people they serve and ensure that naturalization becomes a portal for full civic participation. Speakers:

  • Andrew Friedman, Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy -- Andrew came to CPD after 15 years building Make the Road New York into the leading democratically run, immigrant-led community organization in New York State. Since co-founding Make the Road in 1997, Andrew helped grow the organization from a small, volunteer-run effort to an $8 million organization with over 11,000 members, 100 staff, and four community-based centers in New York City and Long Island. Andrew helped oversee all aspects of Make the Road’s work, including the organizing, legal services, adult literacy, workforce development, operations and finance department. He has worked as an adjunct professor in New York University School of Law’s Clinical Program, NYU’s Wagner School for Public Service and the New School for Social Research, and serves on the Board of Directors of Make the Road New York, and the Make the Road Action Fund. Andrew is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and a cum laude graduate of the New York University School of Law.
  • Marika Dias, Managing Attorney, Make the Road New York -- Marika Dias is the Managing Attorney at Make the Road New York, where she also coordinates the immigration legal services and LGBTQ legal support. Marika maintains an active caseload of immigration cases, predominantly working with immigrant youth in Staten Island, with individuals in removal proceedings, and with undocumented individuals in the criminal justice system. Marika provides legal support to Make the Road’s organizing work in the areas of immigration, policing and LGBTQ rights.
  • Diana Colin, Director of Civic Engagement, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) -- Diana Colin is the Civic Engagement Director at CHIRLA. Diana and her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico D.F. when she was two years old. Diana began her work at CHIRLA as a student volunteer in 2009, and was hired on as a campaign organizer in 2013. She graduated from California State University Fullerton in 2011 with a major in Political Science.
  • Dr. Manuel Pastor, Co-Director, Dornslife-Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, USC --- Dr. Manuel Pastor is a Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He currently directs the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII). Pastor’s research focuses on movement building and the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income communities. He has written several books and speaks nationally on issues including demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment. In 2012, the Liberty Hill Foundation awarded Pastor the Wally Marks Changemaker of the Year for social justice research partnerships.
  • Aparna Shah, Executive Director, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote -- Aparna Shah has worked for social change and expanded democracy with immigrant and low-income communities for over 20 years. Under her leadership, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote has organized five annual statewide campaigns directly reaching 150,000+ immigrant and New American voters, built the long-term infrastructure and capacity of grassroots immigrant organizations across the state to run electoral and issue campaigns, and established a sister organization, the MIV Action Fund. She was born in Manila, grew up in Mumbai, and now lives with her family in Oakland, CA.
  • Evan Bacalao, Senior Civic Engagement Director, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials -- Evan Bacalao oversees the Harry P. Pachón Civic Engagement program, which operates out of the organization’s Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando, and New York offices; in addition to full-time staff in San Antonio, San Diego, and Washington D.C. Under Evan’s leadership, the program has assisted more than 20,000 legal permanent residents apply for U.S. citizenship, directly helped over 100,000 voters with voting questions, mobilized half a million Latinos to vote, re-granted $2 million to local Latino-serving non-profit civic engagement efforts, and touched millions more through mass-media and cutting-edge online outreach campaigns.