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Hundreds expected to attend free citizenship fair in Anaheim

Hundreds expected to attend free citizenship fair in Anaheim
The nonprofit OCCORD will host a Citizenship Fair on Sept. 29. Participants will be able to complete applications with guidance from volunteers and lawyers. (Courtesy of OCCORD)

An Orange County nonprofit seeking to “give a voice to the voiceless” will host a free citizenship fair Sept. 29 in Anaheim.

The Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development will help hundreds submit citizenship applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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Legal professionals will be on site to walk applicants through the process and review their materials.

Shakeel Syed, executive director of OCCORD, said the group is expecting about 800 people to show up and anywhere from 500 to 600 will have applications completed.

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Applicants must meet eligibility requirements that include being 18 years old and a permanent legal resident for at least five years, or three years if married to a U.S. citizen. A criminal background limits eligibility.

OCCORD was founded in 2005 as a community-labor alliance.

“Our mission has been to lift up the lives of working-class folks and give a voice to the voiceless,” Syed said.

The group does this through community and grassroots organizing and research and policy advocacy, particularly concerning economic justice.

Syed said the organization hosts about 25 citizenship clinics each year mostly in its Garden Grove office. The group also holds about eight fairs throughout the year in bigger venues like churches or libraries. The Sept. 29 event is considered a mega fair and is the organization’s most substantial citizenship event.

OCCORD on average helps about 1,500 people submit citizenship applications each year.

Syed sees this work as particularly important in a current political climate that sometimes disparages non-citizens.

“OCCORD’s and other community organizations’ work with respect to citizenship, always but especially at this time, is critically imperative to not only preserve our democracy but help it thrive,” Syed said.

If You Go

What: Citizenship Fair

Where: Anaheim Convention Center, 800 West Katella Ave.

When: 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 29

Information: To register, visit occord.org/citizenshipfair_20180929. OCCORD encourages applicants to begin their application prior to the fair by visiting citizenshipworks.org/Portal/occord.

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