It would be a mistake to believe that the story of every immigrant and asylum-seeker revolves around a single conflict. For each one, the agon of attaining legal status in the U.S. constitutes just one step on an arduous journey for a happier, more fulfilling life. This is one reason why the mission of Just Neighbors reaches beyond simply providing legal assistance to low-income immigrants and refugees: all endured struggles before the one for citizenship, and all will face more afterwards. Our organization’s responsibilities, then, extend to enhancing community bonds between U.S. citizens and vulnerable immigrant populations, as mutual understanding between neighbors creates support systems for everyone.
Take, for example, the story of Solomon Mahoi: born in Sierra Leone, Solomon fled his home country after their Civil War, which lasted from 1991 until 2002, tore it apart. He sought refuge north in the Republic of Guinea and lived there in a settlement camp. But Solomon saw greater opportunities in America, so he applied for and received a U.S. green card then emigrated across the ocean. America, however, proved to hold as much difficulty as promise. Though he had lawful permanent status, Solomon struggled to support himself in his new home. He became a student in order to pursue a B.A. in Public Health, but still relied on community centers to live. It was through one such center that he heard about Just Neighbors, and so eighteen years after first arriving in America, Solomon asked us for help.
Solomon first came to Just Neighbors because his green card had expired and he was struggling to find work. With the guidance of our attorneys, Solomon was able to renew his permanent residency until 2028 and get a new green card. But in the months-long process of application and renewal, Solomon found something unexpected: peace of mind, arising from the knowledge that an organization and a community within that organization existed to provide him with support and assistance. Now, with his renewed lawful permanent status, Solomon is continuing to look for work in order to support himself. He aims to complete his degree in Public Health and earn full U.S. citizenship in order to move closer towards his bright future.