A Home Where She Belongs

Recently I attended the interview for U.S. citizenship of one of my clients. It was actually the second interview attempt for her; the first time she had been denied due to a technicality. The officer had been more than a bit unreasonable, so we were all a little bit nervous.

A little about my client: she has been through a lot to get to this point. She suffers PTSD and chronic depression after fleeing for her life from a brutal military regime in Burma, losing her husband in the process. She came to the U.S. and tried hard to learn English, but has so far been unsuccessful due to the mental and emotional trauma she has experienced. She works hard at a packaging company despite her language limitations, using the help of a co-worker friend as an interpreter when needed.

It is one of the biggest and surely most satisfying steps on her journey to make a new life out of the brokenness that was forced upon her by a home country that did not want her.
All that said, she passed the interview! The officer recommended her for naturalization – she is going to be a citizen of the U.S. It is one of the biggest and surely most satisfying steps on her journey to make a new life out of the brokenness that was forced upon her by a home country that did not want her.

This is not an unusual story for any of my refugee clients. Some of them have watched beloved family members die in front of them, some lived in difficult conditions in refugee camps for years and years, and all of them have fled from death and dehumanization that was intended for them simply because of their ethnic identity, religion, tribe, or other markers of their very identity.

Once she was homeless, stateless, and likely hopeless; but after so many people and events told her that she was not wanted, now she has a home where she belongs.
It is one of the most satisfying parts of my job to see a person, who came to the U.S. hoping for safety and a new life, become a citizen. This is not because I am overly optimistic about our nation: it is one of many, with many warts and ills, and many beautiful and confusing people who compose our identity. But this woman has worked very hard to get to this place. Once she was homeless, stateless, and likely hopeless; but after so many people and events told her that she was not wanted, now she has a home where she belongs.

Timothy Paulson, Immigration Counselor, Immigration Legal Services