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.
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.