HARTFORD — With raids planned for Sunday and with the national spotlight squarely on the immigration issue, we talked to an immigration attorney about the legal paths to become a citizen.
There are several legal pathways to citizenship. But in addition to being underfunded and understaffed, those agencies are also dealing with a backlog of applicants and a lot of confusing paperwork.
Dr. Nso Besong is fled to the United States from Cameroon.
“The greatest thing that somebody can have in life is an assurance of freedom, which is beyond what money can buy,” he said.
But freedom isn’t free. And according to Immigration Law Attorney Alex Meyerovich, who emigrated from Belarus, it’s also not quick.
“The process is complicated. In most cases it doesn’t make any sense. For Mexican Nationals to bring siblings, 25 or 26 years.”
Naturalization status requires you to have a green card for five years, have a clean legal record, know the English language and have some knowledge of American History. It’s most difficult to acquire citizenship if you don’t have family already here. “If you don’t have these people around you who can petition for you, it’s almost impossible to get to the United States,” said Meyerovich.
Becoming a citizen has some distinct privileges. The right to vote, serving on a jury, traveling with a passport, bringing family to the U.S., being an elected official or getting a federal job.
If you're concerned about possibly being separated from your family, there's a free Connecticut toolkit for that. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said, “Our state as a whole has come together to make sure that everybody know their rights and are aware of the resources that are out there.” The toolkit includes a child care plan, where to find legal assistance to how to avoid immigration scams.
At the federal level, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal will announce federal legislation to strengthen provisions keeping ICE out churches, schools, hospitals, and courthouses. “To make sure that those policies are enforceable against an agency that may be out of control. With agents who may be rogue,” said Sen. Blumenthal.
Speakers at the Senator’s news conference Friday went so far as to call ICE a terrorist organization. Costanza Segovia of Hartford Deportation Defense said, “We’re talking about a terrorist organization that is coming in to places where people usually seek safety.”
Alok of the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance said, “We want to abolish ICE. We want ICE to be defunded.” “We differ on that point,” responded Sen. Blumenthal.
There are a series of vigils being held across the state Friday night where people are asked to bring candles and show unity in support of the immigrant community.