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!



saul albarran-page-0017-20-15


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.




Successful First Round of Downstate Community Navigators/Liaisons Trainings

100MEDIA$IMAG1439Christine Howe going over introductions on Day One

In an effort to build more downstate resources for immigrants, which in turn empowers communities, the Immigration Project held the first downstate Community Liaison and Navigators trainings at the beginning of April. For those who haven’t heard of Community Navigators or Liaisons (“Promotores and Intermediadores” in Spanish), they are people who typically already have frequent contact with immigrant populations within their own jobs or leisure activities.  The first half of the training provides explanation and information about immigration law and resources, which enhances one’s ability to connect immigrants to legal service providers, social service organizations, and government representatives. They learn who can and cannot give legal advice and what constitutes ‘legal advice’, helping to fight against what is called ‘notario fraud’ (a plague of unauthorized persons wrongfully completing immigration application forms or dispensing incorrect or incomplete advice about the legal system).  Those who want to become Navigators stay for additional training in form and document preparation, to be completed only under the supervision of attorneys. Tasks of Navigators and Liaisons range from helping clients get utility or school records, to explaining requirements for some immigration programs, to helping clients complete applications.

IMAG1451Luis Huerta-Silva conducting the Community Navigators/Liaisons training on Day One

With the help of Luis Huerta-Silva from ICIRR (Illinois Coalition forImmigrant and Refugee Rights) in Chicago, the trainings took place in our home office on April 1-2.  Nineteen individuals attended, from McLean County, Champaign, Peoria,LaSalle and Springfield. Some were health partnership personnel (including a surgeon and medical student), others ESL teachers in school systems, and four were our own volunteers!  Fifteen completed Day One Liaison training and 9 of those 15 went on to become certified Navigators at the end of training the next day. After a successful initial Community Navigator and Liaison Training and with enthusiasm running high, preparations are being made to conduct additional trainings in Champaign and Normal this summer, including teacher in-services with the two local school districts in McLean County.  As soon as groundwork is laid, we can expand to Peoria, Springfield and Kankakee, then further downstate.

Download$1782The trainers from left to right: Luis Huerta-Silva, Christine Howe, Charlotte Alvarez

Community Navigators and Liaisons are crucial to increasing the ability of Immigration Project to serve our 86-county area, where we are the lone non-profit legal immigration service provider with immigration attorneys on staff. With their outreach efforts, more immigrants can hear of our services.  With their new knowledge of certain requirements, forms and documentation, cases can be completed more quickly.  Another by-product of expanding resources is that our staff will be able to take on more complicated cases that are more time-consuming and attorney-demanding. Community Navigators and Liaisons guide and support clients at every step of their legal journey allowing our attorneys to focus on filing applications. We have high hopes for this program to increase our current ability to serve more immigrants, and sense even more urgency as we await the Supreme Court decision by June of whether or not President Obama’s 2014 executive actions regarding DAPA and expanded DACA are constitutional.  If they decide ‘yes’ then DACA-expanded should go into effect nearly immediately and DAPA just a few months later.  Of the many thousands of immigrants in downstate Illinois who will be eligible for these two programs, we expect over 16,000 could seek our help.

1783_2The first nine downstate Community Navigators holding their certificates at the end of Day Two

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.