Mayor renews partnership to offer immigration services


Dolly Nguyen

101 W. Congress Parkway is home to many immigrants who go through the naturalization process in Chicago.

By Metro Reporter

Lindsay Ibañez of Rexburg, Idaho has not seen her husband in seven months. He is living in Argentina and is going through the naturalization process.

“If I could tell [Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] Leon Rodríguez that I want to be remembered in life for one thing more than anything, it would be how much I love my husband, Renzo,” Ibañez said. “I would thank him so very much for taking the time to process our case and to make everything we want possible, because without the [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] we couldn’t do it. I would beg him for this process to go faster.”

The USCIS is a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that oversees lawful immigration to the U.S. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Rodríguez signed an agreement Sept. 17 to continue their partnership strengthening citizenship education and awareness efforts for immigration within the city.

Ibañez married her husband—an Argentinian resident—in February 2015. Because she has ties with Chicago, her husband is getting processed at the USCIS to move to Chicago with her. Ibañez submitted photographs and letters of support to legitimatize their marriage when filing his paperwork. The couple now faces a waiting game, Ibañez said. If USCIS recognizes Ibañez as financially stable, they will interview her husband in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to approve or deny his American visa.

Under the agreement, the City of Chicago and USCIS will continue working with the Chicago Public Library to promote “Citizenship Corners,” which offers information about naturalization to library users as well as related training to librarians, according to Marilu Cabrera, spokeswoman for the USCIS in Chicago.

“Being the federal government and having a partnership with the local city where you’re located is very beneficial,” Cabrera said. “[Having] access to those libraries where if they didn’t have that, it would be one less venue where people don’t know where to go, or they may fear coming into our offices. Many of these individuals come from countries where they fear their government.”

In a Sept. 17 press release, Emanuel expressed support for the continued partnership between the City of Chicago and USCIS.

“Our partnership with USCIS has helped open the doors of opportunity for the immigrant community in Chicago, and we are proud to strengthen this relationship by renewing our letter of agreement,” Emanuel said. “Naturalized citizens make tremendous contributions to our communities, our city and our country every day, and we will continue to support the immigrant community and assist as many Chicago residents as possible.”