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Charities plans March 18 clinic to assist with naturalization process

Concerns about President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement policies appear to be fueling strong interest in a March 18 Catholic Charities clinic to help legal immigrants take final steps toward citizenship, the clinic organizer said.

About 80 people have registered and up to 100 are expected for the clinic at Catholic Charities’ Juan Diego Center in Omaha – compared with 30 or fewer attending similar sessions held in past years, and a total of 146 people aided at nine workshops last year, said Jessica Bernal, Catholic Charities’ immigration program director.

"Everyone is a little concerned that even though they are legally here, they are afraid carrying a green card is not enough, and it’s time to finish their citizenship process," Bernal said.

The clinic will have more than 20 volunteers and several attorneys working without charge to make certain people who want to obtain citizenship have the necessary paperwork and can answer the questions likely to be asked at an interview with U.S. citizenship and immigration officials, Bernal said.

With the proper paperwork, applications for citizenship can be mailed to federal officials, who will set up final interviews and citizenship ceremonies, she said.

Catholic Charities has been working with many of the people expected at the clinic since January, but it’s not too late to sign up, Bernal said. Registrations will be accepted through March 13, and people can call 402-939-4615 to save a spot, she said.

A date for the next clinic has not been determined, but it could be sometime in April, Bernal said. More clinics than last year’s nine workshops also could be held if necessary, she said.

The clinics are part of Catholic Charities’ legal assistance program to help immigrants, Bernal said. The charitable arm of the Archdiocese of Omaha also assists with family reunification efforts, renewing legal documentation and helping immigrants whose legal status is threatened by domestic violence or other forms of abuse, she said.

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