by Kathy Para
JBA Pro Bono Committee Chair
Jacksonville Area Legal Aid would like to congratulate and thank Florida Coastal School of Law, the American Immigration Lawyers of America, The Jacksonville Bar Association Immigration Section, and more than 25 pro bono attorneys on the implementation of another effective and important outreach service — Citizenship Day, April 16, 2011.
The attorneys volunteered their time, on a Saturday, to help dozens of people take the first steps in becoming U.S. citizens. Immigration and nonimmigration attorneys pitched in to make Jacksonville’s 2nd Annual Citizenship Day a huge success.
All volunteers participated in a rewarding pro bono opportunity and had a chance to give back to the local immigrant community.
Citizenship Day, a free workshop held at Florida Coastal School of Law, provided assistance to lawful permanent residents eligible for naturalization.
Students from the law school assisted prescreened applicants with filling out the application for naturalization while volunteer attorneys reviewed the applications and accompanying documentation for completeness and content.
Attorneys provided valuable client services without being legally bound to a case that could last months or years. They discussed the eligibility requirements for naturalization, described how to fill out the application for naturalization, and explained how to analyze the application in order to discern any possible red flags.
Immigrants also received information about local services available to help with English and preparation for the required civics test.
“These lawyers and law students are facilitating life-changing events for people,” said Ericka Curran, Florida Coastal Immigrant Rights Clinic professor.
“We had a great response from the legal community, with more attorneys volunteering this year than last,” added Curran.
But she admits that so many people showed up for assistance that they had to turn some away. “With the amount of people we get, we could probably do this once or twice a month,” she said.
Sincere thanks are extended to the attorneys who assisted on Citizenship Day 2011: Ashley Benson, Jean Curioso, Dulce Fazel, Nancy Hale, Ada Hammond, Millie Kanyar, Cassidy Keshavarzi, Lena Korial-Yoran, Ryan Mahler, Catrina Markwalter, Allison McElhaney, Kate Mesic, Vanessa Zamora Newtson, Leslie Ng, Crystal Johnson Reeves, Kara Roberts, Elisabeth Ruiz, Tiffiny Safi, Stephanie Scarborough, Melissa Schwartz, Tara Scudder, Monica Shepard, Dan Stockard, Afvrill Thompson, Lindsay Tygart and Karen Winston.
Attorneys in the Fourth Judicial Circuit are encouraged to be the one for a client in need. Contact Kathy Para, chair, JBA Pro Bono Committee, at [email protected] or 356-8371, ext. 363, for information on how to volunteer.