Cupertino – Citizenship Classes at Senior Center
Victor Wong – an exemplary volunteer – teaches citizenship classes at the City of Cupertino’s Senior Center operated by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. These classes enroll legal permanent residents over the age of fifty who are eligible to apply for naturalization. The eight-week course covers United States History, salient aspects of the US Constitution, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in the United States of America. The class also features guest speakers from the regional offices of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Citizenship.
Since 2002, 1,078 of Wong’s students have successfully taken the citizenship exam. These students are residents of Cupertino and neighboring communities. According to city staff these classes help seniors feel less isolated, more independent and integrated in their community, which in turn reduces the burden on city services.
There are more than 2,300,000 legal permanent residents (LPRs) in California who are eligible for citizenship. There are estimates that naturalization could increase California’s adult citizen population by up to10 percent. (Rob Paral and Associates, Integration Potential of California’s Immigrants and Their Children, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, 2008). Services such as citizenship classes can be a critical step in integrating immigrants into a community and setting the stage for their active civic participation.