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A Valley Interfaith citizenship assembly Alan Pogue ship. An estimated one hundred thousand non-citizen legal residents live in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, representing approximately 13 percent of the entire population. “There are so many people that we could fill this hall up every Sunday,” said Elizabeth Valdez, a volunteer who briefly interviews applicants as they enter the hall. Valdez completed her citizenship application at an earlier assembly and is waiting for the INS to schedule her interview and tests. But the assembly is not held at Christ the King every Sunday. According to Valdez, to make the process accessible to applicants the assembly moves from parish to parish. The as sembly we attended was the fifth conducted at Christ the King since the program began in May, and in that time 1,500 people have completed applications for citizenship, which Valley Interfaith delivers to the Harlingen INS office. \(Seventy additional applicants comMost applicants begin the process by responding to an announcement made at church services. And because the INS has designated the assemblies as community outreach centers, the entire process can be completed without visiting an INS office. Applicants sign up, are told to arrive punctually for a Sunday appointment, and spend about an hour completing forms. The questions asked by volunteers range from the required \(and in this setting, or the German Army, to details about domestic arrangements. “Your husband lives in Mexico and you have no contact with him?” one volunteer asked. “I don’t call him, he calls me,” the woman responded, adding that she had neither his phone number nor his address. “Then, you’re marriedbut separated,” the volunteer said. The Nazi Party question was easier to answer. Two tables away, another volunteer, speaking in Spanish, gently coaxed a series of responses out of a reticent elderly woman. Like the applicant she worked with, the volunteer was not yet a citizen. “I came here to apply for citizenship, really, because I wanted my father to apply,” she said. While she studies English and American history and governmentand waits for an “appointment letter” from the INSshe works at the Sunday citizenship assemblies. “My parents were immigrants,” Father Guevara said. “The church has always brought immigrants into the mainstream. That’s one of its functions….This program makes the church more relevant. It’s an example of the church providing practical, everyday needs.” Except for the last two Sundays in December, the assemblies are scheduled at various churches each Sunday for the next two years. OCTOBER 25, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15