The New American

Jacqueline becomes a U.S. Citizen with the help of JFON West Michigan! 

Jacqueline, her husband and six children were refugees from Burundi resettled in Michigan under the auspices of First United Methodist Church—Grand Rapids in 2007.

Liz Balck, site attorney for Justice For Our Neighbors West Michigan assisted the family to become lawful permanent residents in 2008.

These are all wonderful blessings for a family who had suffered so much loss and hardship. Jacqueline was deeply grateful to her church, her friends at FON, and to the country that had welcomed her and her family. She wanted to express her love and appreciation in a truly meaningful way. She wanted to become a U.S. citizen.

She tried to navigate the process with the help of a non-attorney friend from the Burundi community. It was not a success. She came back to JFON West Michigan for help. Together, and with the loving support of her church community, Jacqueline re-filed. She passed the English/U.S. Civics test with flying colors and, of course, proved that she is a person of excellent moral character.

She passed! Jacqueline and Liz together.
She passed! Jacqueline and Liz together.

On June 17th, Jacqueline stood, raised her right hand, and along with hundreds of other new Americans across the country, took the oath of citizenship:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Liz caught up with Jacqueline afterwards and asked her about the experience.

“It is an honor and a privilege to become a U.S. citizen,” said Jacqueline, choosing her words carefully. She was still a bit uncomfortable with so much attention. “I’m proud of this accomplishment and what it means for me and my family. Thank you to everyone for helping me.”

“Anything else?” asked Liz.

Jacqueline smiled broadly, her eyes brimming with the sentiments she could not express.

“It’s good,” she said simply.

“Yes,” Liz agreed. “It’s very good!”