U.S. Veteran Becomes a U.S. Citizen

sal pic-page-005Saul Albanán Navarrete was one of our New Americans Initiative (NAI) clients that we helped naturalize last year. Saul has lived in the U.S. for over 27 years and served in the U.S. Armed Forces as a Colonel. He received a medal of honor for his service at his oath ceremony. He wrote his case worker, Christine Howe, these beautiful letters expressing his gratitude and outlining his experience at the oath ceremony. We just had to share his kind words and excitement!



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I am writing you this letter to thank you for your valuable help, so that I could get citizenship. On Friday, the 17th of July, I went to Rock Island and achieved what I had yearned for, for so long. Glory to God and to you all. I am already a citizen of another country, with fills me with great pride, joy, and satisfaction. I am asking a favor of you, that you would extend my gratitude to all of your companions that cooperated to help achieve this, which I have dreamed of. I hope that Gods blesses you and everyone else and that you are always fulfilled and joyous.

Saul Albanán Navarrete

            DePue, IL               Thank you!

DePue, Il     12-15

Christi:saul all-page-001

I greet you with much care and affection and wholeheartedly hope that when you receive this letter that you are free of problems and that you are always full of happiness. I am responding to your kind letter and am sending you what you have asked of me. At the swearing-in ceremony we didn’t take pictures, because we didn’t bring a camera nor did we bring a cell phone to take them, thinking that maybe they weren’t permitted. But I sent you a similar photo that appears in my Certificate of Citizenship, I hope that you will excuse it because I am very old!

Also, I am sending copies of some documents that they gave to us on this glorious day! One of the happiest days of my life, and one I will never forget, and thank you again Cristi! I hope that God will bless you for the rest of your life. Take care and I hope that you’ll always be successful in all your future endeavors.

                                I am happy…

Saul Albanán Navarrete

P.S. Also, I sent you a copy of my medal of honor, that he gave me (in the ceremony), a Colonel of the Armed Forces of the United States, for my records. Near perfect! (he said) that I’ve had in this country, from the time I arrived 27 years ago.

sal pic-page-001 (2)sal pic-page-001Copies of Saul’s medal of honor.


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Naturalization Ceremony Program

sal pic-page-003Congratulatory letter from President Obama.

sal pic-page-002Information on Citizen’s rights and responsibilities.




A Citizen Unknown

Meet Ziyad. Unknowingly Ziyad became a U.S. citizen when his parents naturalized in the 1970s.

This is the second video of our client series.

Story of Courage, Resilience, and Persistence

 At 20 years old, María came to the United States with her infant daughter. Her family had been coming to the United States as seasonal field workers in California, but María had always stayed in Mexico. This resulted in her mother, father and six of her siblings qualifying for Legal Permanent Status through the Amnesty Program while she was denied. María needed to stay with her family so when she, her husband and daughter entered the U.S., they entered as undocumented. Except for two of her older married sisters, the majority of her family had decided to stay and make a new life in the U.S. Since María’s parents had Legal Permanent Status, María and her young family hoped the petition that her parents were able to submit for her would give María a priority date in a few years. María’s petition was made in 1993; however for the category of adult children seeking Legal Permanent Residence there was a long wait. 20 years passed.

For 20 years, María worked and raised 7 children in Bloomington, all the time as an undocumented immigrant. She was active in her children’s schooling and kept a job for all those years. Even after her first child born in the U.S, Roberto, turned 21 she had not received her priority date for changing her status to Legal Permanent Resident. Since Roberto is a U.S. citizen, he brought his mother to The Immigration Project to start the application process for Legal Permanent Resident status. Roberto filed a new petition for his mother, and María sent in her Adjustment of Status Application, with other supporting documents. Roberto had not worked long enough nor was making enough money to qualify for the Affidavit of Support, one of the required supporting documents. Therefore, they had to seek help. Due to María’s hard work and value in the work place her employer was glad to help with the affidavit.

After submitting her applications and supporting documents, María received a Biometrics (a process of fingerprinting etc. that everyone in the process must go through) appointment. Having no form of identification, María was in danger of being picked up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) if she traveled to the location where the Biometrics process was scheduled. The Immigration Project helped write a letter to the Mexican Consulate in Chicago to obtain her Mexican Passport and with that identification she was able to complete the Biometrics appointment.

After completing the Biometrics process, María received her interview date. She and her son went to Chicago to meet with an Immigration officer.  Finally after more than 20 years of hard work, courage and resilience she was approved for Legal Permanent Residence.  Within two weeks she received her Employment Authorization, enabling her to get a Social Security Card and a Driver’s License. Finally, a few months later she received her Green Card. In a few more years as a Legal Permanent Resident, María will qualify for citizenship, meaning she will have finally accomplished her dream.