July 4th, 2016

Iraqi Girl with Flag (1)Between plentiful summer cook-outs and trips to the beach, July 4th is a special time for Americans to slow down and appreciate the basic freedoms that we sometimes take for granted in this “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.” CWS is dedicated to providing these same freedoms for refugees and immigrants, who often seek refuge in the United States because they have not had the luxury of living freely in their home countries. So far in 2016, CWS Durham has helped 60 refugees and immigrants become U.S. citizens who can now celebrate this special holiday being their first truly “American” July 4th.

With citizenship class test preparation  provided by our partners at Orange Literacy (see more in this article!), CWS Durham has been able to initiate over 125 citizenship cases for refugees and immigrants in 2016 with the hope that they will one day soon celebrate future U.S. holidays as American citizens.

HERNANDEZ_CACERAS (1)In light of this unique holiday dedicated to remembering and celebrating true American freedoms, USCIS will be conducting nearly 100 special Oath Ceremonies across the U.S. for more than 7,000 soon-to-be New Americans. Several of our clients will be participating in these special July 4th themed Oath Ceremonies over the holiday weekend! We hope that future Independence Day Oath Ceremonies will naturalize even more CWS Durham clients!

As a summer intern for the legal services department of CWS Durham, I have been able to help new arrivals obtain their Green Cards, Citizenship, and other immigration benefits at discounted prices that are feasible for underserved populations. After I complete my Master’s degree in International Studies at NC State University next Spring, I hope to continue working with refugees and immigrants through non-profit legal services like CWS Durham’s.

For me, July 4th serves as a reminder of how fortunate I am to have been born in a country where political, religious, and human rights problems don’t warrant the displacement of thousands, if not millions, of people. In light of the upcoming Presidential election, being able to serve people who come from countries where freedom isn’t abundant puts my relatively minor problems and daily struggles into perspective. I feel fortunate to spend this July 4th as part of the CWS Durham team, where people work hard to advocate for the most vulnerable among us for the benefit of all!