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26 July 2010

The Blue Campaign to Combat Human Trafficking

You may have seen the press release on our web page regarding the “Blue Campaign to Combat Human Trafficking.” There is also a blog post on the DHS “Leadership Journal” worth checking out on the same topic by Alice Chamberlayne Hill, Senior Counselor to the Secretary.

16 July 2010

Be Sure to Have Your Say on the Proposed Fee Rule

As we announced on the USCIS website recently, the comment period for the proposed rule to adjust fees for immigration benefit applications and petitions ends July 26, 2010. We want to hear what you have to say on this important issue - so be sure to submit your comments before time runs out.

14 July 2010

TPS Haiti Registration Period Extended Six Months

We've got another major TPS announcement. The registration period for TPS Haiti has been extended six additional months, until January 18, 2011. Check our site for more details.

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TPS El Salvador Extended 18 Months

Just a reminder to our readers: The Department of Homeland Security will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to eligible nationals of El Salvador and people having no nationality who last habitually resided in El Salvador for 18 months, through March 9, 2012. This extension does not apply to Salvadorans who entered the United States after Feb. 13, 2001. For more, see this news release and Q&A on the USCIS.gov website.

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06 July 2010

'City of Brotherly Love' Hosts Special Citizenship Ceremonies for Independence Day

On July 1, 26 new citizens from 19 countries joined the American family after taking the Oath of Allegiance from USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas in Independence National Historical Park.  The park marks the location of where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted.  This ceremony was one of three held in Philadelphia to celebrate Independence Day. A total of 102 adults and 13 children became new citizens at the Philadelphia ceremonies.

Director Mayorkas prepares to deliver a naturalization certificate, while Cindy MacLeod, Superintendent, Independence National Historical Park, offers her congratulations to the new citizen
Director Mayorkas prepares to deliver a naturalization certificate, while Cindy MacLeod, Superintendent, Independence National Historical Park, offers her congratulations to the new citizen.

Army PFC Lafiette Trowers joins her fellow new citizens in taking the Oath of Allegiance
Army PFC Lafiette Trowers joins her fellow new citizens in taking the Oath of Allegiance.

A child happily watches the ceremony
A child happily watches the ceremony.

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05 July 2010

Samantha Eddleman: "You Enlist a Marine - You Reenlist a Family"


In 1991, Samantha Eddleman, originally from Great Britain, was working as a nanny for two naval officers in Hawaii when she met James, a newly enlisted United States Marine. She became a legal permanent resident after she fell in love and married her husband two years later.

Samantha Eddleman receives congratulations from Col. Lecce after becoming a US citizen on July 4 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Samantha Eddleman receives congratulations from Col. Lecce after becoming a US citizen on July 4 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

She and the growing Eddleman family of nine children followed James throughout his Marine career from Hawaii, to Washington State, and finally to North Carolina. They saw him through his 10 deployments, two to Iraq and one to Afghanistan and now look forward to seeing him every weekend when he drives the five hours up from his current duty station in South Carolina.

James is now a Master Sergeant (E-8) only six months away from working 20 years in the Marine Corp. He and the nine children, who range in age from 10 months to 16 years, will all be at the naturalization ceremony on Sunday, June 4 at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Samantha is looking forward to being able to salute the U.S. flag during the ceremonies she participates in as a Cub Scout Leader. She lives up to the motto - "You enlist a Marine - you reenlist a family."

04 July 2010

July 4 Weekend: Members of the US Armed Forces Naturalize at Ellis Island

Members of the United States Armed Forces are sworn in as citizens at Ellis Island

Members of the United States Armed Forces are sworn in as citizens at Ellis Island

After the swearing-in, applause and waving flags

After the swearing-in, applause and waving flags

Receiving congratulations and a Certificate of Naturalization


Receiving congratulations and a Certificate of Naturalization

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02 July 2010

Seeking Freedom: Father George Dunne

George Dunne has been a Catholic priest since 1982. He came to Chicago from Dublin, Ireland for a one year sabbatical in 2000, but after traveling to Florida during the chilly Chicago winter he fell in love with the people and the country.

A Catholic priest for nearly 30 years, Father George Dunne fell in love with the U.S. during a sabbatical from his home country of Ireland

A Catholic priest for nearly 30 years, Father George Dunne fell in love with the U.S. during a sabbatical from his home country of Ireland.

Father Dunne has been a priest at the same Winter Springs, Florida parish for 10 years. The Diocese of Orlando helped him apply for work visas, a green card, and this last step - U.S. citizenship. When asked why he decided to apply for citizenship, he said that he had "connected here - with the people, with the country."

He was naturalized at a special Independence Day ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Floriday on July 1. He said that Independence Day is about "seeking freedom. It is at the heart of the U.S. story." His parish is having a big July 4 celebration for him on Sunday. It will be a very special day for them all - it will be the first time that he will be able to say the Pledge of Allegiance with the parishioners.

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Francisco Diaz: A New American Takes Flight

(This July 4 weekend, USCIS will feature several profiles of immigrants who have become United States citizens at naturalization ceremonies around the country over the past week.)

Francisco Diaz is fascinated by stuff that flies. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Diaz perfected his English reading aviation books. A full-time flight instructor at Florida’s Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Diaz will earn a Master’s degree in aeronautics this year.

Flight instructor Francisco Diaz, originally from the Dominican Republic, became a U.S. Citizen in the shadow of historic NASA rockets at the Kennedy Space Center on July 1, 2010
Flight instructor Francisco Diaz, originally from the Dominican Republic, became a U.S. Citizen in the shadow of historic NASA rockets at the Kennedy Space Center on July 1, 2010.

Yesterday, Diaz joined 100 others in reciting the Oath of Allegiance, becoming U.S. citizens in the shadow of historic NASA rockets at Kennedy Space Center, just 60 miles from the place he has called home for the last four years.

"For a pilot, Kennedy Space Center is like a dream place," Diaz said. "It's like Disneyland for us."

Diaz says he owes everything to his dad, who petitioned on his behalf in 2004 to come to the U.S. to train to become a pilot. A restaurateur, Diaz's father put three kids through college even after a debilitating illness left him wheelchair-bound.

Though he’s experienced six Fourths of July in the U.S., Diaz says this year's celebration takes on a whole new meaning. A spirit of independence, he says, is "the ability and the resources to follow your dreams."

It's exactly that spirit that motivates Diaz to pursue his dream of flying fighter jets for the U.S. Air Force. Next week, he plans to take his Certificate of Citizenship to the local Air Force recruiter’s office and sign up for Officer Candidate School, a huge step toward realizing that dream. Diaz joined ROTC as a cross-town cadet while attending community college in New York and was actively involved in the program until he completed his studies at Embry Riddle.

Diaz applied for naturalization the day he became eligible (four years and nine months after establishing permanent residence). Becoming a U.S. citizen is the key to a future career as a military pilot. Given the choice between naturalizing last week at the local USCIS office or waiting to participate in today’s event, he says, was a no-brainer.

"Kennedy Space Center represents the dreams of the country. It’s where the space program was born," said Diaz. "It's the most special place to have the ceremony."

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01 July 2010

A Young Immigrant's Olympic Dream

Young Daniel Samohin was nervous. His father and coach, Igor told him "we can do this." At 11 years old, Daniel was competing for the third time in the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships, and had just fallen during his warm-up. In past years, he had finished ninth and eighth. He had received high marks for artistry, but fallen short on the technical side of his performance. Still, after a year of practicing more seriously, he knew he had a chance.

As soon as his program started, everything seemed to flow. Daniel's performance exhibited both outstanding artistry and technical excellence. As he left the ice, his eyes filled with tears of happiness. The judges were so impressed they awarded Daniel the highest scores and the gold medal. The young man had come a long way, and continued a proud family tradition.

A New Beginning in America

Daniel says the fun of the sport is what motivates him, and enjoyment of the sport goes hand-in-hand with success. When asked about his goals, he says he wants to go to the Olympics and compete for first. He says representing the United States would feel really good - and love of the sport and showcasing his hard work is what drives him.

His father Igor, an accomplished skater in his native Russia and former coach of the Israeli skating team, coaches his sons and other young skaters for the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club. Igor and his wife, Irina, moved to the United States to provide their family a better life and more opportunities.

Daniel was encouraged by his father to start skating at an early age, and found that he excelled at and enjoyed the sport. Coming from Israel as a small boy and speaking little English, skating provided an outlet.

An Older Brother's Perspective

Daniel's older brother Stanislav - or Stas for short - is also an accomplished skater and aspiring Olympian. He helps Daniel learn difficult jumps and other advanced skills. While Daniel has few memories of Israel, Stas was born in Russia and clearly remembers his family's moves to Israel and the United States.

"Things were hard" and "we didn’t speak the language" Stas recalls when asked about coming to the United States. It took time to make friends, but things got easier each day. "My main purpose was to come here and train and we adapted pretty quickly."

At first, Stas primarily had Russian friends, but he has found that branching out and reaching outside that circle of friends has enriched his life and given him more opportunities. Being an immigrant and having lived in different places, he says that "you've seen other people and how they live" and it provides a view of things that others might not have.

"They Are All United Here"

Stas emphasizes that being involved in sports helped provide the mentality and life skills needed to adjust to the challenges of a new environment. "If you are into sports, you have to overcome yourself - and these obstacles, these hardships, are like goals that you try to step over."

He sees American Olympians as a particularly good example of what makes this country special. Many athletes come from other places, "but they are all united here" and "this is like their home now."