Esperanza Immigration Legal Services Hosts Free Citizenship Clinic With National Law Firm


Immigrants all over the country have been feeling an increasing sense of urgency in the last months to become U.S. citizens. This is the case of Roxane Acevedo who along with 20 individuals attended the citizenship clinic organized by Esperanza’s Immigration Legal Services (EILS) and national law firm, Ballard Spahr LLP at the Mellon Bank Center in Center City, Philadelphia on Wednesday, April 19.

“Potential clients have expressed a real sense of urgency to apply for citizenship now, to be able to secure their status in this country and that of their families,” Mary Clark, EILS Executive Director said. “In just a single morning, we were able to help 21 individuals apply to become U.S. citizens.”

Acevedo, who is a native from the Dominican Republic, has been a permanent resident since 1998 but only recently decided to pursue the path of citizenship due to recent changes to immigration policies. “I now recognize the rights that I have and all the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen,” Acevedo said.

According to Clark, EILS has been overwhelmed with calls from immigrants seeking assistance, including those legally residing in the U.S. who are anxious to complete the process of becoming U.S. citizens. At the same time, EILS has received numerous support from many volunteers, non-profits and other organizations.

“EILS has also received support from a large number of volunteers. Our recent citizenship clinic, which was hosted in collaboration with Ballard Spahr LLP, was a great opportunity to take advantage of this outpouring of volunteer support in furtherance of our work assisting low-income immigrants,” Clark said.

For many, becoming a U.S. citizen is a financial burden and a long exhausting process. However, EILS not only offers free consultations but guides clients through the whole application process.

“A lot of people want to do this as fast as possible and this [EILS Clinic] is the best choice for them because they don’t have to pay for a consultation and if their papers are in order they can submit their application right away,” Carolina Bautista, EILS Intake Service Coordinator said.

EILS hopes to continue its efforts of supporting the needs of low-income immigrants and help naturalize many more American citizens in the near future.

We are grateful to all of the attorneys, law students, and volunteers who helped us in this effort and we look forward to the next clinic!” Clark said.

Special thanks to the following individuals from Ballard Spahr for their help coordinating the citizenship clinic with EILS: Mary Gay Scanlon, Pro Bono Counsel; Caroline Choi, Associate; Shonterra Jordan, Associate; and Lisa Whitely, Director of Practice Management.