BlueHub's latest nonprofit initiative, One Percent for America (OPA), was featured on NPR's Marketplace as a solution to address the cost of becoming a US citizen.
BlueHub's COO Brenda Loya said citizenship application fees can add up quickly, especially when several members of a family need to pay the $725 fee. "Families make choices on where they spend their money. If times are tight, it’s possible that they won’t take the step," said Loya.
Jessica Mejia, a resident of Baytown, Texas, is in the process of becoming a citizen along with her mother, both of whom got a loan from OPA to pay for their application fees. They are paying $50 a month towards their OPA loan.
“My American dream is to be a citizen, to be able to vote,” Mejia said. “You don’t even feel it. Fifty dollars is what you spend at a restaurant."
Like many others, Mejia’s long path to becoming a citizen started with tragedy. “They killed my brother in Colombia,” said Mejia, who never imagined her own family would be impacted by violence, despite the country’s history of armed conflict.
She and her mom fled to the US 11 years ago. Once in the US, she married and her husband sponsored her to get a green card. She said once she takes her oath and becomes a US citizen, she's going to celebrate with a big American barbecue.
One Percent for America has financed roughly 600 loans across the country and is now soliciting donations, investments and corporate sponsorships.