TFC News

Fil-Am lawyer organizes Citizenship Fair in Virginia

Monica Galozo | TFC News Virginia Beach, Virginia

Posted at Dec 06 2022 06:13 PM

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There are thousands of Filipinos migrating to the United States each year in search for greener pastures.  

While many have already secured their residency, some have yet to secure their citizenship, which can ensure them better opportunities and protection.
 
Filipino American immigration lawyer Radlyn Mendoza has been organizing citizenship fairs in Virginia Beach for the last 15 years to help immigrants obtain US citizenship. Her motivation to help fellow immigrants goes way back when she was a young girl. Her parents, who own one of the earliest Filipino grocery stores in the Hampton Roads area, would regularly invite people to their house to eat and talk about life. Some of the discussions she would hear were problems about immigration.

"It was that experience where I learned about community. Community is not just your family; the community is more of an extended people," Mendoza stressed.
 
Mendoza said that her experience as an immigration lawyer allowed her to see the needs of the community of immigrants, pushing her further to organize a Citizenship Fair to help lawful permanent residents finally take that step and apply for US citizenship.

She shared that one life-changing experience made her commit to organize this event annually, the biggest reason why helping immigrants has become her mission.

It was when she received a call to help a Filipina mother of four who was sentenced to jail for drug-use. The woman faced immediate deportation. Since she was only a permanent resident and not a citizen, Mendoza said there was nothing she could do.

"When I went to the jail to visit her, I'm looking at her and it just dawned on me that the only difference between the two of us right now is I was born in the United States and she was born in the Philippines," the lawyer said.

"That's when I started Citizenship Day because I felt like I have to help people come to this table. It is not just about voting; it is about protecting your security here in the US and your family's security."

The Citizenship Fair is a one-day event, handled by a group of volunteers with support coming from the local immigration office and the community.

Because of her passion and commitment to help the community, Mendoza was recently awarded by a local Fil-Am organization as one of the Most Outstanding Filipino American Professionals in the Hampton Roads during Fil-Am History Month.

She encourages every Filipino resident and other immigrants to secure their future and protect their families by getting US citizenship.