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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!

Interesting are “los caminos de la vida” (the paths of life). Forty-five minutes away from the rural canton where I grew up in El Salvador is a town called Cara Sucia, well known for its market. I loved going to Cara Sucia as a child because we could buy things you couldn’t get anywhere else. My sister and I always loved visiting this tiny stand that sold delicious french fries, prepared crisp and golden with the perfect amount of ketchup, mayonnaise and shredded cheese. I always remembered those fries with fondness, but never thought I would call up such cherished memories in a bleak detention center for immigrant families in South Texas.

Reflections on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina elicit dark memories of loss of life, displacement and destruction. But looking back also reminds us of great acts of heroism and abundant generosity. For social and political reasons, we should take a long, hard look back at 2005 and where we are as a nation today. CLINIC looks back and recalls its own response to the destruction and how the Gulf Coast looks today from the perspective of welcoming immigrants and creating opportunities for social integration in the process.