One group in Northwest Arkansas is working to help immigrant residents become U.S.. Citizens in time to vote for the first time in the November elections. To complete the process, the applications must be turned in by the end of April.
The Arkansas United Community Coalition says they’re hoping to get as many people as they can started in their citizenship process, so they’ll be able to vote this November.
Kenya Shamburger can’t believe it’s finally happening.
“I’ve been here in the USA for ten years, fourteen years. I crossed the border like everybody else, illegal,” Shamburger said.
After years of waiting, Shamburger is finally able to become a U.S. citizen.
“I’ve been waiting for ten years. Finally I get my application in,” Shamburger said.
According to the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Shamburger is one of 40,000 people eligible for citizenship in Arkansas. If the process is started before the end of April, they’ll be full citizens by the November election.
Mireya Reith, Director at the Arkansas United Community Coalition, says they’re offering free help with applications, English classes, and study groups for the citizenship test, allowing for these new citizens to cast a ballot this fall.
“Their vote will really have an influence this year, and they can have a say both at the state, as well as the national stages. Really hear an opportunity for our community and our immigrants, not just to speak for themselves but to speak for their communities,” Reith said.
For Shamburger, casting a ballot is a dream so close to coming true.
“So the only thing I really want to do is, vote, to have the right to vote.”
And she hopes the rest of her family, will be next.
“If I can get my citizenship, my family is going to be the same, they will follow my footsteps you know?” Shamburger said.