All over the world, men, women and children are fleeing persecution, imminent danger and extreme violence. Some of them—70,000 last year—are fortunate enough to be admitted as refugees to the United States.
After they have lived here for one year, refugees are required to apply for Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR or “Green Card” status). The application process, however, with its many requirements and forms, can be daunting to those still struggling with a new language and culture.
Justice for Our Neighbors West Michigan began hosting Refugee LPR clinics in 2004. Last month, JFON attorney Katrina Pradelski ran her second refugee clinic at the First United Methodist Church of Grand Rapids. It was a very happy experience.
“We were blessed to have so many volunteers to help us,” she says proudly. “We served several families and everybody left smiling.”
One of these volunteers had served in Afghanistan with the US Army. He immediately developed a rapport with an Afghan family seeking assistance at the clinic. While Katrina supervised the volunteers and answered any questions, the veteran played with the family’s children as he helped their mother fill out her application.
“Seeing them bond as human beings regardless of the current military climate,” Katrina muses, “…it was just beautiful in so many ways.”