A tradução deste artigo se encontra no final da versão em inglês
This week’s column is a little bit of cleaning the house, getting things ready, and prioritizing. Maybe it is the fact that I am 35 weeks pregnant, and slightly panicking at all the things I still need to do.
I know I have written about this topic several times this year, but I cannot express enough how important it is to respond to the Census. We need to do our part to voice our concern in protests and such, and be responsible for our collective civic obligations. We respond to the Census every 10 years, and it matters a lot that the Brazilian community responds. Other than perhaps estimation through the Island school system, there is no way to know how many Brazilian people live on the Island. Still, many Brazilian individuals utilize public services, so it is crucial to have an idea. For people to continue to access all the helpful services, data needs to be provided, not just an estimate. Tens of millions of federal aid dollars are at stake: We receive aid for services based on our accurate population numbers. Even if you have already responded to the Census, check on your church community members, show the elders how to do it, do it with them, share the YouTube link (bit.ly/CensusPort) — which explains in Brazilian Portuguese what the Census is, how it works, how your answers will be protected and not shared with Immigration. If you want to answer the census in Portuguese by phone, the number is 1-844- 474-2020. To answer online in Portuguese, go to 2020census.gov/pt.html. The deadline to answer the Census is Sept. 30. The Census doesn’t impact just you; it affects your entire community. Help get the resources your family and members of the Island community need by making sure you participate in the 2020 Census.
Last Friday, our country suffered an immense loss. I am still in denial about it. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at 87 of complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas. She changed the way the world is for American women. I read that once, at a naturalization ceremony, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said to the folks becoming naturalized American citizens, “We are a nation made strong by people like you.”
If you have not registered to vote yet, please do so, regardless of who you are voting for. Remember that only naturalized citizens can vote; individuals with a green card cannot vote. The link to register to vote, or check your registration, is sec.state.ma.us/OVR. The deadline for registration is Oct. 24.
Updating your Social Security
This critical aspect of becoming a naturalized citizen is something I learned from the Island’s registrar of deeds, Paulo Deoliveira. When you are a green card holder, your Social Security comes with restrictions, meaning that if you have to show it to financial institutions, or for new jobs, you can’t present your Social Security number without your work authorization or green card. Once you become a naturalized American citizen, you must go to a Social Security branch with your naturalization certificate and driver’s license to request a new card without restrictions. The number remains the same, but Social Security doesn’t get notified of the change unless the individual does this step. The closest branch, which is in East Falmouth, is open by appointment only, but it is open. I went in this past week, and by Saturday of the same week, I received my new card. To call the branch to make an appointment, the number is 1-855-881-0212.
Another topic I have covered many times is how to obtain a Real ID license, what it means, why the new changes, and how to do it. The deadline has been extended to Oct. 1 of 2021, instead of this year, because of COVID. The reason why I mention getting your Social Security updated is that one of the documents one must present for the Real ID is a Social Security card. In my case, for me to utilize my S.S. card to get the Real ID, I had to remove the restrictions. Once you have your naturalization certificate, you have to turn in your green card, so my S.S. needed to be updated. Now, when I go to the DMV branch to get the Real ID, I can either bring my naturalization certificate or passport and my S.S. for documentation. DMVs across the state are open, but you must schedule services; here’s the link: atlas-myrmv.massdot.state.ma.us/myrmv/_/#1.
Please, please wear your masks. Just because we have more information about this pesky virus and live in a state that has been a leader in adequately responding to a health crisis, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to do our part, or that we are no longer in the middle of a pandemic. I see many Islanders either not wearing masks, especially on the ferry and shuttles, or placing the mask underneath their noses. The mask goes above your nose. Again, when we wear masks, we are protecting ourselves and the people we love. So get comfortable with the notion of wearing masks for at least another year, when we have a safe vaccine produced en masse. Don’t be selfish, constantly wash your hands, and wear your masks.