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About PACP

Who we are

On February 1, 1999, as part of its continuing commitment to strengthening the Portuguese American community, the Luso-American Foundation initiated The Portuguese American Citizenship Project.

The Project is intended to encourage Portuguese Americans to participate fully in civic activities of their communities, become U.S. citizens, register to vote, and vote. The Project is based on the assumption that the communities themselves are best able to determine the strategy to encourage greater civic participation. These communities understand their specific problems and can best judge how to overcome these obstacles.

The Project has worked with 52 cultural, fraternal and religious organizations in 21 communities located in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island. Twenty five Catholic churches participate in the Project.

The Portuguese American Citizenship project has no political agenda. Rather, it serves as an informal forum through which not-for-profit organizations can share ideas and receive practical advice on promoting citizenship and civic participation.

Our Mission

The Portuguese American Citizenship Project is a non-profit organization that encourages Portuguese Americans to become U.S. citizens, to register to vote, and to exercise their right to vote.

 

Our History

Portuguese American communities have a long history of private and government-sponsored programs to foster citizenship and civic participation. These efforts to promote responsible citizenship are marked by extraordinary personal commitment of concerned volunteers to improve the community.

Noteworthy campaigns to facilitate application for U.S. citizenship have taken place in all communities. In New Jersey, volunteers run programs to take an applicant from the first to last step in the Immigration and Naturalization Service process. In New England, numerous citizenship campaigns have been sponsored by volunteer and government organizations. Community organizations in California have run citizenship campaigns for tens of thousands of applicants.

Many voter registration efforts in the Portuguese American communities have largely fallen to organizations with specific political interests. Individual politicians, political parties, unions, and even the Catholic Church have been prominent in promotion of voter registration. Similarly, voter registration and "get-out-the-vote" campaigns for Portuguese Americans by individual politicians, political parties and unions are designed to ensure that the targeted citizens are those who support the political objectives of the sponsor.

Nonetheless, the separate projects promoting civic participation are notable by the absence of shared strategies. Interaction among interested individuals and organizations within the local community has been limited. Cooperation between communities within a state has been rare. Inter-state cooperation among Portuguese American communities in neighboring states has not taken place. While most efforts have yielded positive results, often these benefits have been restricted to the immediate community and the effect of any successes thereby diminished.