I have been waiting to write this one for decades. Meher is one of my favorite people and on May 18, 2017, she will take the oath of United States citizenship in her hometown of New York, NY. It was a 16 year journey that Meher and I began in our twenties. We have moved across jobs, law firms, cities, and countries together. Meher and I both overcame challenges to find enduring peace at this point in our lives.
Our December 2016 Client of the Month is another member of the “Dreamers out of Trump’s reach” club. Andres St. Claire and Jazmine St. Claire are clients of the month after Andres was granted residence seven years after marrying Jazmine Andres St. Claire is a Dreamer who got protection under DACA. But before that, he was in love with Jazmine St. Claire, with whom he shared an immigrant experience and a love of video games and dogs.
We are happy to announce Mariana Laredo as our Client of the Month for November 2016. In a week full of dread over the results of the Presidential election, Mariana provided a ray of sunshine. Yesterday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service formally acknowledged that Mariana was a citizen at birth when she was born in Mexico in 2002 to her Mexican mother, Rosalba and her American father, Gilberto Soto.
I have heard from a lot of people expressing outrage over the fate of Adam Crapser, the Korean adoptee who was ordered deported earlier this week. I get and share the outrage and would like to help channel the outrage into an increased awareness of the many failures this case represents. If you have not seen the adorable photos of Adam as a young boy or holding his infant child, a brief summary.
When can I apply? How much does it cost? Can I skip the test if …? Do I have to give up my birth country nationality? These were some of the questions I had about becoming a U.S. citizen for a long time, which if not answered professionally, could lead to a very long path. This is essentially what happened to me and why I delayed the process of becoming a U.S.
Our client of the month for February is Rubén García, a native of Spain and brilliant chef, who recently became a U.S. citizen with the help of his attorney Dree Collopy and paralegal Liana Montecinos. After training under Martin Berasategui and other notable mentors in Spain, Rubén is now the right-hand man of Washington, DC’s own José Andrés and a key mastermind behind the Think Food Group’s culinary concepts as its Director of Research and Development.
For November 2015, we want to honor two good friends of Benach Collopy (FOBR), Allison Rashkin (left) and Jessica Lang (right), who became U.S.citizens this year. Allison came to the U.S. from Montreal, Canada and Jessica from Costa Rica. Both are spinning instructors at Zengo Cycle in Bethesda. Neither of them had hard cases. But they are the kind of cases that thrill us at Benach Collopy.
On Saturday, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) rang in Citizenship Day in the most meaningful way: by organizing a series of legal clinics throughout the country to help many aspiring Americans apply for citizenship. Benach Collopy LLP staff – Naya Gonzalez, Patrick Taurel, and I (Lauren!)– pitched in at a clinic in Rockville, Maryland hosted by local immigrant advocacy group, CASA de Maryland.
This summer we have had to say farewell to one of our original team members. Since Benach Collopy opened doors on April 2, 2012, Sandra Arboleda was here ready with a fresh cup of coffee and a desire to help our clients through the challenges of U.S. immigration law. Sandra is moving on to seek an advanced degree in social work. her passion for helping people, which served us and our clients so well here, demands that she improve her education to put her talent and determination to use in the field of social work.
After a years-long battle, a client of ours was recently sworn in as a United States citizen after his naturalization victory. Why is this significant? Because in 20 years of practicing immigration law, it’s difficult to recall the government being so fiercely opposed to naturalizing someone. Over a decade ago, our client – a U.S. lawful permanent resident – was engaged in serious criminal activity. In 2003, he was arrested and pled guilty in federal court to possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.