Americanism is a question of principles, of idealism, of character: it is not a matter of birthplace or creed or line of descent. ~ Theodore Roosevelt, Nobel Prize-winning 26th U.S. president (1858-1919)
Alberto Ruiz is an American citizen – as of one month ago. Although he has lived in this country legally since he was eighteen years old, for Alberto, becoming an American citizen seemed a far-away ideal. That is, until Tom Williams of KPOST Company supported him in becoming a citizen. Tom is a former Naval Lieutenant Commander and was the project coordinator of AT&T Stadium.
“I did not believe that I would ever have the great opportunity to become an American citizen,” said Alberto. “It costs quite a bit of money and we just did not have it to spend.”
KPOST Company provides their eligible employees the opportunity to realize the American dream by supporting Tom in assisting them with the myriad of paperwork and rules required to complete the process.
“We recognize that there are many reasons our eligible employees may not pursue citizenship, one of which is the prohibitive cost of hiring an attorney to complete the process,” said Tom. “It takes several hours for me to complete package, but the end result it well worth it.”
This may seem like going way beyond the norm for an employer, but KPOST Company executives believe in the effort.
“Our team members are important to us, and we recognize that there are those who, while here legally, may simply not have the means to take that next step toward citizenship,” said Steve Little, KPOST Company president. “We simply want to provide them with the opportunity to realize the dreams of our ancestors – to become an American.”
Living in America
“My life is here in the U.S. My children are Americans and I have made this my home,” said Alberto. “I actually came to this country because I could not find work in Mexico. No one would hire a kid right out of high school with no work experience. I have family in California so came to this country for the opportunities, which paid off.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, there were approximately 8 million legal permanent residents (LPRs) living in the United States as of January 1, 2010 with the ability to naturalize. The number that actually does has decreased steadily since 2005. There is no clear-cut reason, however, in spite of best efforts to simplify the process navigating citizenship, or any other government group, can be a daunting process.
“It takes quite a bit of time to complete a packet thoroughly and correctly,” said Tom. “In addition to ensuring that the resident is eligible, you must provide all the appropriate legal documentation. Basically I spend my time dotting “I’s” and crossing the “t’s” so that the packets are completed appropriately. Then it’s just a matter of getting them approved so they can attend a Naturalization Ceremony.”
To become a citizen via naturalization, a person must first:
- Have been a permanent resident for 5 years.
- Have lived in the state of application for at least 3 months.
- Be able to read, write and speak English and have a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government.
- Be a person of good moral character.
“If you meet the eligibility requirements, there are background checks that determine you are a law-abiding citizen, don’t owe anything to the IRS, and have no outstanding warrants,” said Tom. ”Plus there is the test they must pass that requires extensive studying and understanding on their part.”
Tom went on to say “I’m happy to dedicate time to this important effort. The employees are so happy to become U.S. citizens, and I’m pleased to play a role in helping them do so. I’m also looking forward to helping their family members complete the citizenship process.”
KPOST Company intends to work with approximately 10 employees annually to help support them through this process.
“Ensuring our team members are part of this great country is part of who we are as a company,” said Steve. “We want them to feel pride in everything they do, and that includes being an American citizen.”
What is the most exciting aspect for Alberto regarding his newly acquired citizenship?
“I’m so excited to be able to vote and have my vote count,” Alberto said. “I had my voter registration card filled out at the ceremony a month ago so I could submit it as soon as possible. I feel it is my duty to participate in elections, particularly since as a citizen I have more rights. I’m looking forward to exercising them as an American.”