May 5, 2019

By Elizabeth Dobbins, LowellSun; Lowell, MA

LOWELL — Five years ago, Jose Christian Rojas Baca left his home near Lima, Peru, to come to the United States.

“My aunt had applied for her family to come to the U.S. over 15 years ago,” he said through a translator. “I never thought the opportunity would come.”

He attended classes at Middlesex Community College, he works at a grocery store and, soon, the Lowell resident hopes to become a naturalized citizen.

To navigate the process, Rojas Baca attended a help session at the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, run by legal experts at Project Citizenship in early April.

Just months ago, this wasn’t an option. The walk-in sessions with attorneys and accredited representatives started this year and run every other Friday morning at the CMAA, 465 School St. It’s part of the organization’s response to an increased interest in citizenship as other means of residing in the United States seem less certain.

“In some communities you have to go out and convince people or advertise why this is a good thing,” said Melanie Torres, director of programs and operations at Project Citizenship. “I think here people are coming and they want the services so we’re just responding to that need and making sure they know where to find the services.”

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