Tulare County Library branches in Lindsay, Exeter help people begin the citizenship process


TULARE COUNTY – Not everyone would link citizenship and library services together, but that is exactly what the Tulare County Library is doing at their branches. Thanks to a program of the California Library Association supported by the Library Services and Technology Act Tulare County libraries were able to gather a Book to Action grant available to libraries and other nonprofits.

“It’s a great program and as far as grants go its’ really easy to apply…the hardest part is finding the partner,” librarian Jonathan Waltmire said.

The grant encourages libraries to partner with a service to help create action in their communities, while also highlighting the topic with an issue specific book. According to Waltmire the Tulare County Library has partnered with the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USICS). Waltmire pointed out that the topic emphasized their citizenship topic with two books; Diane Guerrero’s In the Country We Love and Tim Z. Hernandez’s All They Will Call You.

According to each book’s synopsis, Diane Guerrero, a primary actress staring in Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin presents her personal story of the real plight of undocumented immigrants in this country. She was just 14 years old on the day her parents were detained and deported while she was at school. Born in the US, Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family.

All They Will Call You is the harrowing account of “the worst airplane disaster in California’s history,” which claimed the lives of thirty-two passengers, including twenty-eight Mexican citizens—farmworkers who were being deported by the U.S. government. Outraged that media reports omitted only the names of the Mexican passengers, American folk icon Woody Guthrie penned a poem that went on to become one of the most important protest songs of the twentieth century, “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee).” It was an attempt to restore the dignity of the anonymous lives whose unidentified remains were buried in an unmarked mass grave in California’s Central Valley.

Combining years of painstaking investigative research and masterful storytelling, award-winning author Tim Z. Hernandez weaves a captivating narrative from testimony, historical records, and eyewitness accounts, reconstructing the incident and the lives behind the legendary song. This singularly original account pushes narrative boundaries, while challenging perceptions of what it means to be an immigrant in America, but more importantly, it renders intimate portraits of the individual souls who, despite social status, race, or nationality, shared a common fate one frigid morning in January 1948.

The libraries around Tulare County have already been hosting some of these events, and they have been relatively well attended. According to Veronica Casanova, library aide of the Exeter branch, this is the first time in her three years in the system that the library has done this. She added that Farmersville’s branch had a total of 20 attendants. But Casanova also said that presenters are there for information only. They will not be helping fill out paperwork, instead they will be more of a referral source telling them where to go to being the citizenship process.

Presenters will be at Lindsay on April 25 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. while presenters will be in Woodlake on May 2 and Exeter on May 3 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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