Arab American Family Services, in Bridgeview, Chicago, is assisting immigrants to overcome the bureaucratic obstacles and complex paperwork that often stands in the way of them getting US citizenship. The organization’s coordinator, Rima Najia, who was recently awarded a Civic Empowerment Award by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in Chicago, helps clients with the paperwork, encourages them to take part in citizenship and ESL classes, and ensures they have the correct documentation.
The clients that use the services of the Arab American Family Services come from the Middle East, as well as the likes of Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, and Poland. Clients must have been in the US for 90 days, and have green cards, passports, tax papers, identification, and social security numbers to qualify for US citizenship.
The application for US citizenship costs $725, but a fee waiver can be given to clients whose income is either at or below the federal poverty guidelines. Najia also performs mock interviews with clients, to prepare them for the kind of questions that immigration officers are likely to ask.
Najia has also been praised for her work by Illinois Senator, Michael E Hastings, who wrote to congratulate her on both her work and the award. Arab American Family Services is a non-profit organization of which Najii has been the coordinator since 2013, starting as a volunteer in 2011.