By Cori MacFarland and Cassandra Busekrus, Catholic Charities Hogar Immigrant Services staff

As a program of Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington, Hogar Immigrant Services‘ aim is to assist newcomers to achieve their own goals of integrating successfully into American society through bilingual outreach programs, including a continuum of networking, immigration legal services, citizenship classes, and ‘English as a Second Language’ classes.

Personally identifiable information has been removed and alias names have been given.

Are you tired of the campaign ads and frustrated by politics this election season? If so, it can be a good reminder that for some, being able to vote in the US is a dream they have been working toward for many years.

Last year, Hogar Immigrant Services advised 415 people on their citizenship applications, and behind the primary goal of becoming an American; the ability to vote is by far the most common aspiration for Hogar clients. Below are the stories of several Hogar clients who have been enjoying their new rights as citizens:

Juan moved to the United States from El Salvador 38 years ago. His dream since leaving his home country has been to become an American citizen. Hogar Immigrant Services helped Juan apply for his citizenship last year, and he finally swore his oath of allegiance to his new home country in July 2016. He now embraces every opportunity he has to vote and participate in the political process. Juan hopes that his vote will count toward a better future for Latinos in the United States, as well as for improved relations between the government and immigrants.

Mustafa left Sudan for the United States, and he lived here for over a decade without being able to participate in politics. In early 2016, Mustafa naturalized with the assistance of Hogar. He exercised his newfound ability to vote in the 2016 congressional and presidential elections, and he even started participating in volunteer campaign work in his district.

Nina from El Salvador takes her civic duty to vote very seriously. She knows well what it is like to have no voice in society, and while she now enjoys a sense of security as a naturalized citizen, she knows that there are many foreign-born US residents who live lives of fear and insecurity. Since they are seldom heard in the public arena, Nina tells us, “I’m happy that I can vote and contribute for those who don’t have a voice.”

Part of living out our Catholic faith is to truly encounter and know our neighbor.  Now that you have read about how Hogar Immigrant Services is helping those in our Northern Virginia community, please consider volunteering or donating.  Hogar is need of English as a Second Language and Citizenship Interview Preparation, to help our clients fulfill their dream of becoming American citizens please visit our website to sign up. Please consider donating to help others achieve their American dream!