The U.S. naturalization process has a long way to go before it is fair for all. Yet, ten years after CLINIC published A More Perfect Union: A National Citizenship Plan, many naturalization services and policies have evolved significantly.
CLINIC Advocacy Attorney Christy Williams became a citizen five years ago. While she is proud of her experience, she remembers not seeing its true value until working with immigrants who had more challenging citizenship journeys.
As Citizenship Week comes to a close, it is worthwhile to remember that naturalization is but one step on the pathway to the larger goal of immigrant integration. Immigrant integration is the creation of something new in the places where we live – a more inclusive community that reflects the needs and wants of all its residents. Immigrant integration takes deliberate and on-going work by both the receiving community and the newcomers, and it requires a community to grow and change as it stretches to allow everyone a chance to access services, make an impact, and participate actively.
On Constitution and Citizenship Day, we honor, not only the newcomers who have and will naturalize, but also the champions who guide them through complex immigration processes and embark on innovative ways to overcome obstacles to immigrant integration.
I believe that dreams come true and that a good dream becomes true life. Without dreams, all we have is reality. Sometimes on our most important dreams, all we can do is give them our best shot, hope for the highest good, and let go. Knowing I could use all the help available, I contacted CLINIC to fulfill my dream in becoming a Citizen of United States of America.
“…I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; … that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
CLINIC has been promoting and facilitating naturalization for more than two decades, and has developed myriad resources on naturalization for our affiliates and the general public. As we kick off our celebration of citizenship this week, today is a great time to recall these resources and highlight a few. The best part is, most of these resources are free!
On September 17th we celebrate Constitution and Citizenship Day across the nation. This observance recognizes not only the signing of the Constitution but also the status of citizenship. In the world of immigration, status can be the difference between wealth and poverty, health and sickness, and admission and deportation.
Raised in a tiny village in Galilee, my father, the eldest of 5 children, was raised by loving parents who made a meager living as poor farmers. My mother, who was raised in an orphanage from a young age by a community of Sisters in Jerusalem, married my father at seventeen. During my childhood, my father worked as a mechanic and my mother as a teacher. While our home was filled with love, my parents recognized that their children would have better opportunities for education, advancement, and success in the U.S.