Philadelphia, PA – Approximately 3000 people will become citizens in USCIS naturalization ceremonies this Wednesday, July 2nd, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Immediately following the ceremony, volunteers with the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) will provide voter registration assistance to the new citizens as part of PICC’s nonpartisan “New Citizens/New Voters” campaign.

“Voting is a privilege and responsibility of citizenship,” said Regan Cooper, Executive Director of PICC. “For new citizens it is an important next step in participatory government. Now, more than ever, it is critical to support their voices in the political process.”

The right to vote is highly prized by immigrants to this country, and PICC is proud to be actively working to register new citizens of the U.S. as voters, provide voter education, ensure language access, and protect their right to vote. Over the past 3 years we have registered over 5,000 new citizens to vote, and we expect to register at least another 1,500 before the October deadline for the 2008 general election.

We have conducted community information sessions to help new voters feel more comfortable with the process. Last year, we collaborated with the Pennsylvania Department of State, along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to develop a Voting Guide for New Pennsylvania Citizens, which will be distributed after the ceremonies on Wednesday. The booklet explains the benefits of citizenship, instructs new citizens step by step on how to register to vote and cast a ballot, provides relevant information about state and local government powers and elections in the Commonwealth, and lists contact information for each county board of elections.

The two ceremonies will be at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Each is approximately 40 minutes long. Voter registration will commence after each ceremony.