As we celebrate Thanksgiving, signifying the arrival and assimilation into American society by generations of immigrants, we must remember that democracy is not a spectator sport. It is only through civic and political participation that each succeeding generation can leave a legacy for its successors. Becoming US Citizens levels the playing field. It removes the barriers an immigrant imposes upon himself, and raises the bar for his children to follow.


We must remember that America is a "nation of immigrants," built by the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants who came to these shores to embrace a better life for their families, and live a dream which was impossible elsewhere.  But we must also remember  that many great people fought and died for the right to vote, and if we are to preserve the American Dream, then we must preserve the bedrock of our democracy-the right to vote.

Rights and benefits of US Citizenship 

  1. U.S. citizens have the right to obtain a US Passport and receive assistance from U.S. Embassies and Consulates when traveling abroad. 

  2. U.S. citizens have the ability to sponsor family members, so they can obtain green cards and legally immigrate to the United States

  3. Children of U.S. citizens are automatically U.S. citizens by birth (in most cases, even if they are born outside the United States). 

  4. U.S. citizens have security from removal or deportation from the United States

  5. U.S. citizens have the right to live or take long trips outside of the US, without worrying about compromising one's visa. 

  6. U.S. citizens have the right to vote and select their government. 

  7. U.S. citizens have the ability to apply for certain federal jobs, since citizenship is sometimes a requirement of employment positions.

  8. U.S. citizens have an unquestioned right to return to the United States, since citizens cannot be denied entry.

  9. U.S. citizens have the right to apply for certain federal and state benefits. 

  10. U.S. citizens do not need to renew a Green Card upon expiration. 

Why should we participate in the Census and fill out the form.

Every household in the country will receive a questionnaire in 2010. To ensure an accurate and fair count of all populations at all geographic levels in the nation, the Census Bureau needs you or someone in your household to respond to the census questionnaire.

  • It's important. - Census data affect funding for your community, your community's representation in Congress and your community leader's planning decisions. 
  • It's easy. - The census questionnaire takes only a few minutes to answer and return by mail. 
  • It's confidential. - Your responses are protected by law (Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 9). All Census Bureau employees have taken an oath to protect confidentiality and are subject to a jail term, a fine - or both - for disclosing any information that could identify a respondent or household.  

It's required by law. - The information you provide is combined with responses provided by your neighbors and other households across the country, to provide summary statistical data that are used by various local, state and federal agencies.

Why Census participation is important:

  • Census affects  funding in your community
    Census data directly affect how more than $300 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation and much more. That's more than $3 trillion over a 10-year period. Spending just a few minutes to fill out your census form will  help ensure your community gets its fair share of federal and state funding.
  • Census affects your  voice in Congress
    Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census is also used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and to redistrict state legislatures, which means that new Americans can take their proper seat at the table of government, and enjoy their just  share in our tax dollars.
  • Census affects your representation in state and local government
    Census data are used to define legislature districts, school district assignment areas and other important functional areas of government.
  • Census informs your  community's decisions
    The census is  like a snapshot that helps define who we are as a nation. Data  about changes in your community are crucial to many planning ഀ decisions, such as where to provide services for the elderly,  where to build new roads and schools, or where to locate job  training centers.

Editor's Note: Albert Baldeo is an Attorney at Law and Community Leader who strives to empower and uplift his community every day.


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