The Fort Wayne office of Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic may be a much smaller one than the Indianapolis office, but their work in the community truly changes lives. Recently, Director Desiree Koger-Gustafson and Paralegal/Volunteer Coordinator Catherine Warney were able to step in and help a family struggling to adjust their immigration status. Natives of Chad, Wowe Nahor* and his wife Nya Nahor* were persecuted for their involvement with the National Council of Chadian Recovery (CNR). Wowe was imprisoned and tortured. Upon being freed, he knew his family must flee their country. And so he applied for and was granted asylum in the United States. At the time, his two sons also received derivative asylee status. The Nahor family was finally safe.
However, when Wowe and Nya eventually became naturalized citizens of the United States, this created problems for their children’s immigration status. Catherine says, “Due to their father's adjustment of status without adjusting the sons' status as well, the clients were no longer derivatives and unable to adjust their status to legal permanent residents.” Finding themselves stuck in the often-confusing mire of United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) processes, they sought help from the Clinic in Ft. Wayne.
The Clinic submitted applications for the boys, but while the family was waiting for the Legal Permanent Resident cases to be approved, Nya learned that her mother was gravely ill. She was desperate to take her family to see their grandmother, but could not do so without their green cards or travel documents. Therefore, Desiree and Catherine also applied for expedited travel documents for the family. Both the green cards and the travel documents arrived within one week of each other.
Catherine says, “The clients were so proud when they received their permanent resident cards in the mail. Their mother informed me they wanted to open their own envelopes as they are old enough to read their names, and they were excited to call and share the news with their father who was at work.” Now that they all have their permanent residence cards, they are able to travel to France to visit Nya’s mother.
For the Ft. Wayne staff, working with the Nahor family has been a beautiful experience. Catherine says, “Many times the clients' mother has expressed her gratitude for our services and the greatness of God. One day in particular, I will never forget. The clients' mother asked me how I was doing, and said she thinks of me often, and she prays for me. This truly touched my heart as I know she is a Muslim woman.” Although the Clinic provides legal services for clients who could not otherwise afford them, the staff often finds there is a commensurate give-and-take between the staff and clients. Catherine says, “I have been blessed by knowing this family just as much as this family has been blessed by the Clinic.”
*Client names and certain case details have been changed