Immigration Unit's Incredible Advocacy Provides Hope and New Life
THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2009
Ms. Wilson, has hope and a new life.

The incredible advocacy and perseverance demonstrated by the Civil Practice's Immigration Unit provided a woman with a life-threatening medical condition proof of her United States citizenship, elgibility for medical coverage, and the motivation to recover, knowing that she is able to remain in this country. Thanks to Allison Baker, a staff attorney in the Immigration Unit's Robin Hood Project, with help from her colleagues in the Unit, the client, Ms. Wilson, has hope and a new life.

Ms. Wilson's problems began in 2005 when the company where she worked for many years was sold and the new owner asked all employees to verify their work authorization by bringing in their original Social Security card. When Ms. Wilson realized she had lost it, she went to the Social Security office where she was told she had to provide proof that she was a U.S. citizen. Ms. Wilson, 57, was born in Canada, but she believed she was a U.S. citizen through her father and a Canadian citizen through her mother. As a teen-ager, she applied and received a Social Security number and a driver's license. However, when she went to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to seek documentation of her U.S. citizenship through her father, who is deceased, she discovered she was facing an uphill battle. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service erroneously denied her application because they applied the wrong legal standard. It was at this time that Ms. Wilson contacted The Legal Aid Society's Immigration Law Unit for assistance. She was in desperate need of help. She was about to lose her employment because USCIS failed to approve her application and provide proof of her US citizenship.

The Immigration Unit staff went to great lengths to find documentation from the 1940s to establish that Ms. Wilson's father resided in the United States at least 10 years prior to her birth, as required to acquire citizenship at birth. Our staff obtained letters from General Motors where Ms. Wilson's father worked for over 30 years, obtained numerous affidavits from friends and family and attempted to find government records. Despite these efforts, USCIS again denied the application because the USCIS failed to apply the correct version of the law. Unfortunately, Ms. Wilson lost her employement for failure to establish her immigration status. She became extremely ill and lapsed into a coma. Knowing that the application was wrongfully denied, the Immigration Unit obtained the fee for appeal from a charitable fund and filed an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office in Washington D.C. The Legal Aid Society requested that the appeal be expedited due to Ms. Wilson life threatening medical condition. Within one month, the Administrative Appeals Office sustained her appeal. Ms. Wilson was no longer in a coma but was still in the intensive care unit. Our staff requested that USCIS send officers to the hospital to issue her certificate of citizenship and administer the oath. USCIS recently issued Ms. Wilson her certificate of citizenship at the hospital and officially established that she was a citizen since her birth in 1952.

As a result of her citizenship status Ms. Wilson is now eligible for full medical coverage. She also has great motivation to recover knowing that her immigration status will no longer impair her ability to work and live in the United States.