Eugene Kiruhura displays his citizenship certificate outside Friends House in Des Moines.Photo: AFSC / Jon Krieg
“High fashion” is not a common sight in the Des Moines office of AFSC. On a recent afternoon, however, Eugene Kiruhura walked into our lobby sporting a smile as sparkling as his snappy attire.
A client of AFSC Legal Services Program, Eugene had every reason to be happy. Earlier in the day, he’d passed his citizenship test and was sworn in as a U.S. citizen. He came in to share the good news, show us his certificate, and talk with AFSC staff about the next steps in a process, already begun, of bringing his wife here from Africa. Now that he’s a U.S. citizen, that can happen much more quickly.
Jody Mashek, who directs the program at AFSC, rejoiced with Eugene. Aided by a small group of volunteers and interns, Jody works with several hundred immigrants and refugees each year as they adjust their status or petition for family to join them.
Not all cases end happily, unfortunately. For too many immigrants, there is no pathway toward documentation, let alone citizenship. AFSC’s organizing efforts continue in Des Moines and throughout the nation to defend immigrant rights and to push progressive reform in state legislatures and Congress.
Meanwhile, stories like Eugene’s keep us smiling.