By Katie Poplawski
When Leticia walked into Taller, she was frantic. Her son, she explained, was turning 18 the following week, and her application for a certificate of citizenship for him had been rejected several times. She was afraid that if his birthday passed before he received the certificate, it would be too late. The reason for the repeated rejections was a failure to qualify for a fee waiver; she was ready to pay the price but she still wasn’t sure the mail would arrive in time. She also wasn’t confident the rest of the application was filled out correctly.
We called the USCIS hotline to see if they could advise her on her son’s application. After peppering me with questions, the agent on the phone gave the answer we’d been hoping for; her son’s age made no difference in the application process. Leticia’s relief was immediately apparent. Now she had time to make sure everything was correct, and then turn in the paperwork when it was ready. I referred her to another community organization, Latinos Progresando, where immigration specialists could look over her application. As stressed as she was when she came in, she was smiling when she left. Before we parted ways she told me that if she ever needed anything, she knew to return here.
What strikes me when working with Leticia and other clients is how comfortable they feel at Taller de José. The mission of accompaniment shines through when our clients enter the office. Leticia did in fact also need help with another legal matter, and after resolving her initial concerns, she felt comfortable asking us for accompaniment for that matter as well. So many of our clients do not come in for years, but return in their time of need because they know they will receive support at Taller de José.
All stories are based on real clients at Taller de José. Names and images have been changed to protect client privacy.