New U.S. Citizen Cast His First Vote

Pablo Varela, a native of Mexico, became a U.S. citizen on November 1, 2013, and voted in his first election in March.  When asked why he wanted to become a U.S. citizen, Mr. Varela responded, “I wanted to be able to vote.  It’s important for me because I have lived here many many years with my wife, Virginia.  I like the country.  I go to Mexico to see my family but I just stay a couple weeks, because I want to be with my wife here.”

swearing in 2013Varela

New U.S. Citizen in Sterling, IL

RutiliaI want to let you know why I decide to become a US citizen.

Two years ago, when I moved to Sterling, IL, I started to hear about places where I could get help to become a citizen. I decided to go to the Sauk Valley Community College to begin the process through the Immigration Project.

Lastly, on June 21, 2013 I became a citizen of the United States. I am very proud and happy for having obtained my citizenship after many years of wising to do it. The most important motive to become a citizen is that I can have more rights and responsibilities in this country. Some of the most important ones are for example to vote to elect the person to lead my country, to show my loyalty and to contribute to make this country better.


IP at West Side Block Party

Immigration Project representatives will staff a booth at the West Side Block Party in Bloomington on Saturday, August 10.  Stop by from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to pick up flyers and business cards.  We will also answer general questions.  If you need legal advice, call us on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to schedule a free consultation.

The event will be held at First Christian Church at 401 West Jefferson in Bloomington, Illinois.

Access to Justice Hearings Scheduled

You are invited to attend one of the regional Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice Listening Conference for the Fourth and Fifth Appellate Districts.  Issues such as language barriers, limited access to information, restricted access to low-income legal services, special vulnerabilities to fraud and abuse, etc. present significant barriers for our immigrant communities.  Please join us at the Immigration Project in attending one of these meetings to make certain our communities are represented on these issues.

View invitation to May 30 hearing in Champaign.

View invitation to June 5th hearing in Edwardsville.

Both events will be held from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m.   Space is limited.  To secure your seat, RSVP to

Chicago Fundraising Event a Veritable Who’s Who

The April 4 fundraiser was a veritable Who’s Who of Chicago immigration legal services.  Those in attendance showed up to recognize our honorees Craig Mousin and Susan Schreiber as well as to celebrate our work in Central and Southern Illinois.  Attendees included:

  • Ed Silverman, Director of the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Refugee and Immigrant Services division (and the direct supervisor of both the Refugee and Immigrant Citizenship Initiative and the New Americans Initiative);
  • Ruth Ann Schmidt, Executive Director of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois;
  • Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director of the National Immigrant Justice Center; and
  • Fred Tsao from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

In addition, several prominent Chicago immigration attorneys attended the event as well as other representatives from the non-profit funding sector, such as Tara Magner from the MacArthur Foundation.

Proposed Immigration Reform Bill Not Law Yet

The American Immigration Lawyers Association cautions immigrants about possible notario fraud.  View the public service announcement in English or Spanish.

Read the proposed bill, “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

May 19 Fundraiser

Join us for a Wine & Tapas Tasting party on Sunday, May 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Trenton House Restaurant at 2 East Broadway in Trenton, IL (see map below).

Tickets are $20 per person and includes tapas (appetizers), samples of a variety of wines, and non-alcoholic beverages (soda, iced tea & coffee).

Knowledgeable representatives will pour the samples and answer your wine questions.

For ticket information, call (618) 444-5934 or email

All proceeds will benefit the Immigration Project.  The Lawyer’s Trust Fund of Illinois will donate $2 for every new $1 donated to the Project by June 30, 2013.

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New U.S. Citizen, Komlan Diabo

 To become an American was a dream I’ve had ever since I could remember.  Komlan Diabo
I don’t know how the influence came about, but I think watching the first Rocky, episodes of Tom & Jerry or the first Star Wars, what we learned about this country in Elementary school in Togo, or even Mr. Barack Obama becoming the first African-American President had something to do with it.  You could feel the freedom in it.
I’ve been in the States for 9 years and now it feels right to become a citizen of this great country. I would very much like to thank the Immigration Project staff–especially Miss Christine Howe–for helping me through this process. Thank you for making this an easy and smooth process and helping me realize my dream!!

Thank you, Garlic Press & Caffé Italia

On April 9, we hosted our second annual Volunteer Appreciation Reception.  Thank you to the Garlic Press and Caffé Italia Ristorante for donating delicious h’ordeuvres and desserts for the event.  And thank you to the tireless volunteers and interns who are the lifeblood of our organization!

Adrian’s Story

My name is Adrian.  I came to the U.S. from Guatemala with my parents when I was 11.  I came to the Immigration Project for help with my Deferred Action application in the fall of 2012.

The attorney who worked with me couldn’t have been better! She had a flexible schedule and was so helpful in putting together my application. I couldn’t have done it without her. I am happy to report that my application was approved on February 1st, and I received my work permit soon after. The work permit has allowed me to start looking for a better paying job, which will help me continue my studies in architecture. It has made all the difference in my life.

Deferred Action was a great opportunity for me, and the staff at the Immigration Project were so helpful and dedicated to making it happen. I am so grateful for their help.