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CUNY, the NY Daily News help immigrants find answers to their questions about becoming American Citizens!

April 24, 2012

Since 2004, the annual CUNY/ Daily News Citizenship NOW! Call-In has provided nearly 100,000 callers with free, confidential information on immigration issues ranging from U.S. citizenship to residency to family petitions. Hundreds of volunteers participate in this event each year, many of them trained by CUNY Citizenship Now!

The event is widely supported by some of New York’s most influential elected officials. United States Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, former Governor David Paterson, and Mayor Mike Bloomberg have all visited in past years to offer words of encouragement.

The Call-in was a vision shared by Jay Hershenson, Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations for the City University of New York (CUNY) and Martin Dunn, former Editor-In-Chief of the New York Daily News. Together, they approached immigration attorney and Daily News columnist Allan Wernick to organize the event. Wernick has directed CUNY Citizenship Now! since its founding in 1997.

For one week each spring, we open the phones from 9am to 7pm to take calls from anyone seeking immigration information or resources. Our overall capacity has more than doubled since the event’s kickoff year. In 2011, close to 400 volunteers assisted 12,526 callers in 48 different languages.

Call-in volunteers include immigration attorneys, paralegals, advocates, and others who share a passion for immigration issues. Year after year, the dedication of our volunteers has helped make the Call-in so successful. Many of these volunteers are also members of the CUNY/ NYC Citizenship Now! Volunteer Corps and participate in our community-based naturalization application assistance events throughout the year.

Prior to each year’s Call-in, we run a full-day training session for all participants. The training covers the basics of immigration law and familiarizes volunteers with the publications and resources available to them during the week.

In addition to widespread recognition, the Call-in has also generated support from the New York business community. 2011's sponsors included AILA, BRIA, Gristedes and WADO 1280 AM Radio. Univision, our Spanish-language media partner has been instrumental in building support within the Latin community.