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I am currently writing a 20 week series prepping clients who are studying for the citizenship test.  Each week I will discuss five of the 100 potential test questions with the correct answer and a brief explanation.

We proudly serve immigrant clients from Virginia and North Carolina, including Surry, Stokes, Wilkes, Yadkin, Alleghany, Ashe, Forsyth, Rockingham, Guilford, Carroll, Grayson, Galax, Patrick, Pulaski, Wythe, Smyth, and Floyd Counties. We also serve criminal clients from Surry County, North Carolina.

Election Reaction

Holly Wilcox

Since the weekend, I've been binge watching the new Netflix show, The Crown.  It follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her marriage through some of the scandals and world events affecting the British Monarchy in the 1950s.  It also portrays her relationship with Winston Churchill, who was nearing the end of his political career while serving his second time as Prime Minister.  Churchill was a controversial leader, and history has shown that some controversial leaders fail miserably.  But, others are surprisingly successful and make a lasting positive impact on their country. 

Winston Churchill is attributed with saying:  "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." 

I woke up today to a lot of Facebook statuses and tweets from the immigrant community in despair.  Many of you feel like the American people let you down last night, and for that I'm truly sorry.  Change is always difficult; sometimes it is exhilarating, sometimes it is terrifying.  Today is no exception.  But today, I am garnering my inner Winston Churchill and trying to have the courage to continue.  I hope you do, too.

I'd like to share my personal statement that accompanied my law school applications.  I wrote it about a month before President Obama was reelected to his second term in 2012.  Although the country did not experience a political change that year, I was experiencing a lot of personal change.  I was graduating from the University of Virginia and going on to law school.  It was my passion to help immigrants then, and it is my passion to help immigrants now.  

For the past two summers I’ve attended the Naturalization Ceremony held at Monticello on Independence Day. There’s a long stretch in the middle of the ceremony that drags painfully slowly. Each candidate’s name is called to receive his or her citizenship, and by the middle of the alphabet it begins to feel like high school graduation. But after all the names are called, each new citizen is encouraged to tell those gathered what being an American means to him or her. The stories are incredible, and by the end many in the crowd are dabbing their eyes, whispering to one another that sitting in the hot sun was completely worth it.

These days, it seems that you can’t go a week without hearing some political pundit discussing immigration on the news. They banter about whether or not immigrants will take “our” jobs, cost taxpayer money for healthcare, or overcrowd public schools. However, it seems to me that those who share their views on this highly politicized issue often neglect the humanity of actual immigrants.
But I’ve met the single mother who left her eight-year-old son in El Salvador with his grandparents so she could make a decent living cleaning hotels in the United States. She only gets to see him once a year. I’ve met the middle aged Somali man who hasn’t advanced past 101 level English in seven years, yet still attends class twice a week despite working a full time construction job. He loves to talk about his grandchildren. I’ve met the 25-year- old Iraqi refugee who escaped violence in his country and is desperate to get his GED in America. He works in a UVA dining hall for minimum wage, riding his bike to work and walking home from the grocery store with his hands full of bags. I’ve met the men and women who used to be doctors, air traffic controllers, and small business owners who were forced to flee their homes only to come to the United States and work as hospital janitors.

I’ve found that most immigrants have a couple of things in common. First, they can almost all tell you, down to the hour, how long they’ve been in the United States. Second, they don’t take anything this country has to offer them for granted. Their passion for freedom, for shopping malls, for the ability to own a house, own a car, for free English class and for public education for their children is inspiring beyond all measure.

I began seriously considering the idea of law school during my first year at UVA, mostly because I didn’t know what else I was going to do with a Social Science major. But a few months later, when I signed up to tutor English to refugees in Charlottesville, I began to realize exactly why I wanted to pursue a legal degree. Hearing the stories of people who lived in bamboo shacks during the monsoon season, or watched their loved ones die as a result of a government-sanctioned attack on civilians completely changed my perspective.

I began reading about civil wars and human rights violations in my International Relations classes and realized that what my classmates and I were only reading about was actually a first-hand experience for many of my ESOL students. Politics aside, I have decided to commit myself to helping people who come to America to better their lives and I know that law school will help me achieve this.

I don’t want to be a lawyer because it’s a prestigious career with an impressive salary. I want to be a lawyer because I believe every human being is born with a set of rights that must be protected. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to live in this country with middle class parents who could afford to provide me an education at a great undergraduate institution. I feel that it’s my responsibility to use the opportunity I’ve been given to help others, and I sincerely believe that gaining a degree from Elon University School of Law is the first step.

The way I felt when I wrote that statement 4 years ago has not changed.  I spent my entire 3 years of law school trying to gain the best experiences and skills possible to pursue this dream.  And I feel more strongly today than ever that it is my obligation to help those who need my help.

To all of the Muslims today terrified you will not be allowed to practice your religion and also participate in American democracy; to all of the second- or third-generation Americans who are worried you will not be able to pursue your dreams because members of our government cannot get beyond the color of your skin or the country of your ancestors' birth; to all the little boys and girls who woke up today fearing a knock on your door from ICE that will take away your mom and dad --- please know that you have an ally in me.  You have many allies in the state of North Carolina, and around this (still) great nation.  

If you are scared, that's okay.  But try to have the courage to continue.  Because whatever laws are passed, whatever regulations are implemented, or procedures put in place, I am here to help.  We will get through this together.  You are not alone.