In late 2009, Helen was struggling to get on her feet. As a refugee from her home country, Liberia, she and her family had recently suffered extreme hardship in refugee camps in a second country. She felt blessed to have been relocated to a third country: the United States. Only about 1 percent of refugees worldwide are resettled in a safe third country. Although refugee resettlement services temporarily assist refugees in obtaining basic necessities, stark cultural differences can make it challenging for new immigrants to find educational opportunities, effective job training, and stable employment. When Helen came to Just Neighbors, she had been in the U.S. for more than one year and was eligible to become a permanent resident.
By late 2010, Just Neighbors had helped Helen and her son obtain Green Cards. But Just Neighbors was able to do more for Helen: we were able to help her become a U.S. citizen. In January 2013, one of our dedicated volunteer attorneys, Jim Graham, began tutoring Helen in preparation for her citizenship interview. To become a United States citizen, a person must demonstrate that he or she can read and write English, and he or she must also pass a civics exam. In June 2013, Jim accompanied Helen to her interview. Afterward, he sent the Just Neighbors staff a text message that said, “Helen passed! 100 percent!” Soon thereafter, Helen took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, and she is now a U.S. citizen in possession of a Certificate of Naturalization. Also, because her son is under 18, he automatically became a U.S. citizen along with his mother.