PASCO -- Sara Salgado of Prosser was worried about making a small error on her U.S. citizenship application and delaying the process.
That's why in 2009 she participated in Citizenship Day in Pasco, where legal residents can get help applying for citizenship.
Today, more legal residents can benefit from the event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Collegium Cafe, 3525 E. A St.
The free legal help from volunteer immigration attorneys, paralegals and interpreters is offered through the Washington New Americans program, administered by OneAmerica, a Seattle-based immigration advocacy group, with the Washington chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
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Jazmin Santacruz, an organizer for the Tri-Cities OneAmerica committee, said they hope to help between 50 to 75 legal residents prepare applications today.
"Hopefully we can help as many people as we can," she said.
To be eligible, applicants must be at least 18 years old and have been a legal permanent resident for at least five years, or three years if married to a U.S. citizen. A legal resident must have lived inside the U.S. for at least half of those years.
Santacruz said the program is becoming increasingly important because there are few other resources to help legal residents interested in becoming citizens.
There are some legal residents who have lived in the U.S. for a decade or longer, but haven't applied for citizenship because they are concerned they won't be able to pass the exam, she said.
Salgado said she was given books and handouts to help her learn the answers to questions on the exam.
When applicants walk into the reception area, a paralegal will help them fill out a form, Santacruz said. Then, an attorney will help to finish it, and a second attorney will check it to make sure no errors were made.
They then will be given the application in an envelope ready for them to send, she said. They still will pay their own application fee.
Citizenship Day is facing cuts, since the Washington New Americans program is provided through a state grant, Santacruz said.
Salgado immigrated from Tecoman, Colima, Mexico, in 1976 when she was 3 years old.
After she got to high school, Salgado said she discovered she couldn't go to college, she said.
Later, after her husband Juan became a citizen, she said she was able to become a legal resident and earn an associate's degree at Yakima Valley Community College in Grandview.
That's allowed her to become a teacher's assistant at Whitstran Elementary in Prosser, although she still would like to get a four-year degree in education.
Salgado said she wanted to become a citizen so she would not have to pay renew her residency every 10 years.
And now that she is a citizen, Salgado said she enjoys being able to vote.
Salgado said she would encourage those who want to become citizens to participate in today's event. That way, they don't have to worry about whether they filled out the application out correctly or included all the needed documents.
For more information about Citizenship Day, go to www.wanewamericans.org or call 877-926-3924.