A big part of my job as your representative in Congress is to help you communicate with federal agencies. This assistance is often referred to as casework and ranges anywhere from expediting a passport application to getting an important question answered by the IRS in time for tax season.
I know that getting a straight answer from the federal government can sometimes be an arduous process which is why I have a team of dedicated caseworkers who are based in my office in Yukon. They have experience dealing with federal agencies like the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) or the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Needless to say, we receive a number of requests from constituents. Many of them can be resolved with a phone call or an email but sometimes it takes a little more time and effort to break through the red tape and government bureaucracy.
Ten years ago the Smith family of Stillwater first contacted my office. They had recently adopted Isaiah, a young boy from Cambodia who was eight years old at the time. Unfortunately there were complications with the adoption process when all adoptions were suddenly halted at the Cambodian border. While Isaiah was able to make it safely to the United States, he was forced to be classified as a refugee due to a technicality. In fact, Isaiah’s younger sister who was also adopted had no issues acquiring American citizenship simply because her paper work was processed sooner.
Because of his refugee status, Isaiah could never obtain his American citizenship. Growing up in Stillwater with his family and going to school, his lack of citizenship did not present any immediate issues.
But then last year, Isaiah’s mom, Linda, contacted our office again when they found out that Isaiah would not be able to get a job or pursue higher education without first applying for a Visa.
My office put Isaiah’s family in touch with Angela Jennings, a lawyer who works with Catholic Charities. With the help of my caseworker, Jill Shero, Angela was able to communicate with the proper federal agencies to clarify Isaiah’s case and eventually secure his American citizenship.
Thanks to USCIS of Oklahoma City, Isaiah made it official at his naturalization ceremony last month. At the ceremony, Isaiah said he had been waiting for this moment for a long time and that he appreciated everyone who helped make it a reality. He was excited that he would become an American citizen just in time to vote in the upcoming elections.
I’m very proud of the efforts of everyone who worked to help Isaiah realize his dream. The naturalization ceremony is an emotional and patriotic occasion – people from all around the world under one roof with the same aspirations. Our country’s story is rooted in immigration and if there’s any doubt the American dream is not alive and well, I encourage you to visit one of these ceremonies.
I hope that we can help write more positive stories like the one of Isaiah and his family. If you or a family member ever need help resolving an issue with the government please do not hesitate to contact my office at www.lucas.house.gov or (405) 373-1958.
Isaiah (left) with his parents, Linda and Charles (center) and Rep. Lucas caseworker Jill Shero (right)