Union movement helps workers become citizens

The Oregon AFL-CIO is helping legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens.

Ricardo Campos and Jonathan Quinonez take part in a recent  immigration clinic at the Oregon Labor Center. (Photo courtesy of Causa).
Ricardo Campos and Jonathan Quinonez take part in a recent immigration clinic at the Oregon Labor Center. (Photo courtesy of Causa)

Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the national AFL-CIO, which was matched by local unions, the state labor federation is hosting immigration “clinics” at its Portland headquarters at 3645 SE 32nd Ave.

To hold the clinics, the Oregon AFL-CIO partners with the Latino civil rights group Causa — its office mate at the Oregon Labor Center since March. Immigration attorneys volunteer their time to help people fill out the lengthy forms required to apply.

Oregon AFL-CIO field specialist Jessica Giannettino-Villatoro, who coordinates the program, says private legal help filing the paperwork can cost $1,500; at the clinics, it’s free, though applicants must still pay the U.S. government’s $685 application fee. Giannettino said the hope is that new citizens will stay in touch by becoming members of Working America, the AFL-CIO’s community organization.

Three clinics have taken place so far, with two more planned in the coming months.

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