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IMMIGRANTS GET CITIZENSHIP HELP.

Byline: Blanca E. Cordova Daily News Staff Writer

About 2,000 people got free assistance in applying for citizenship Saturday at Valley College.

Immigration and Naturalization Service forms were available during the event, called U.S. Citizenship Day. Also, applicants were able to have their photos and fingerprints taken, said Candy Pulliam, coordinator of the event and member of the Los Angeles-based U.S. Citizenship Action Network.

``This is the first step in becoming a citizen,'' Pulliam said. ``This saves people anywhere from $50 to $300.''

The applicants had to be legal residents for five years, or for three years if married to a United States citizen. They must be able to read and write English and be of good moral character. Later in the process, they must pass a test on the federal government, Pulliam said.

Immigration attorneys were present to help people with more complicated questions, said Mona Tawatao, directing attorney at the San Fernando Valley Neighborhood Legal Services Inc.

There were about 400 volunteers and community-based organizations providing information. Sponsors include the Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County Department of Social Services, Valley College and many more, Pulliam said.

``A lot of people are afraid of the unknown. When they are here we help them feel at ease,'' said Rachel Daggett, a volunteer helping people with their INS forms.

Elsa Alarcon, originally from Guatemala, has been in the United States for 18 years - but only now is applying for citizenship.

``They are doing something real big,'' Alarcon said of the event's organizers. ``They answer even the smallest question,'' she said, speaking in Spanish.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

PHOTO (1) Patricia Gallegos, left, and Lillian Dolores Martin wait in line Saturday for free citizenship assistance at Valley College.

(2) Thousands of prospective citizens fill out paperwork at Valley College on Saturday, with help from volunteers.

Myung J. Chun/Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1997 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 5, 1997
Words:314
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