American Building Maintenance Company and Facility Services: Employee Participant Testimonial

Integration Programs Associate

March 16, 2017

Since July 2013, the American Building Maintenance Company and Facility Services (ABM) has supported immigrant employee’s pursuit of United States citizenship through collaboration with New American Workforce. With this partnership, ABM offers free citizenship information sessions, English classes and general assistance with the citizenship process, all occurring at the jobsite. These services are made possible through a partnership with Building Skills Partnership (BSP), a local worker-education service provider, and legal service provider community partners, the International Rescue Committee and SIREN. Over the past 4 years, ABM has hosted 14 citizenship workshops, the most of any Bay Area partner for New American Workforce.

For 13 years, Rosario Becerra worked in customer service and as a janitor at ABM with legal permanent resident status. Despite desiring the benefits of US citizenship, particularly relating to voting rights, Rosario’s fears of failing the citizenship test and neglecting her Mexican heritage stalled her dreams of naturalization. Fortunately, in the summer of 2013, ABM began offering free citizenship and English classes, providing the instruction and motivation for Rosario to overcome her fears and hesitations. Rosario remarked:

“Becoming an American has always been important because it means I can vote. I feel like I have a voice. ABM has made it possible to take classes at the worksite. This made it possible for me to learn and become more confident. I had a lot of fear, but the workshops made it very easy.”

Rosario became a United States citizen in the fall of 2013, and shortly after, received her US passport and the freedom to visit family in Mexico. Asked if she had advice for legal permeant residents who are eligible for U.S. citizenship, Rosario quipped:

“I want to encourage people to become citizens. Even though it’s a long process it is worth it, and you then have a responsibility to vote and better the lives of future generations!”

The citizenship classes were so impactful that, 4 years later, Rosario still attends English classes at ABM – truly a win-win situation for everyone involved.