World Relief helps suburban immigrants on path to citizenship

By Erika Wurst For Chronicle Media

The growing and ever changing immigrant population in Kendall and Kane counties is prompting World Relief DuPage/Aurora to hold more citizenship clinics. Most recently one was held in Yorkville. (Photo courtesy of World Relief)

As Kendall County continues to grow, so does the area’s immigrant population.

From Plano to Oswego, more and more immigrants are calling the county home and World Relief DuPage/Aurora is determined not to leave those residents behind.

For the first time in Kendall County, the organization hosted a citizenship clinic for those looking to seal their American citizenship and finally call the country they love home.

“U.S. citizenship means security,” said Catherine Norquist, Immigration Legal Services Director for World Relief DuPage/Aurora. “Someone can be a current legal permanent resident and still run the risk of being deported.”

By becoming citizens, “they can be released from that fear…There’s been an increase in immigration talk in the political sphere, and not in a positive way,” Norquist said, which is why she’s determined to help alleviate that fear for immigrants and refugees.

During the March 16 clinic held at Yorkville Congregational Church in Yorkville, about 20 people showed up to meet one-on-one with immigration law experts for consultation on legal naturalization. They received assistance in completing the application for naturalization and were provided study materials for the interview.

Catherine Norquist, Immigration Legal Services director for World Relief DuPage/Aurora (Photo courtesy of World Relief)

There was a legal team on hand, and an education department focused on screening English language capabilities. There were document scanners, several sets of eyes looking over critical applications, and assurance that the process of citizenship was being followed correctly.

Without clinics like this, and help from World Relief, the application process for citizenship can be daunting.

“Applications can get lost in no-man’s land, or not get completed. People will get to the interview and be met with surprises, which can lead to potential denials,” Norquist lamented. “Right now, immigration is really scrutinizing applications. It’s not super easy to go through the process.”

Norquist, and volunteer Diane Stablein are hoping to be guiding lights on the journey.

Stablein, who attends Yorkville Congregational, was all smiles Saturday as she looked around the community room at her church. It was filled with volunteers and immigrants who have joined together in brotherhood.

“Our mission in church is to live what Jesus lived,” she said. “Being community driven is also what Jesus wanted us to be as well. We are to love and take care of everybody, not just people in our church. Our vision is to help people outside our walls.”

In volunteering with World Relief, Stablein believes she is doing just that.

Through their recently formed “Love Your Neighbor” ministry, the church is focusing on helping refugees and immigrants within the local community. Volunteers put together care packages for families, pick refugees up from the airport, work on English language skills and raise money for immediate needs.

Being able to work up close and personally with those in need has been a blessing, Stablein said.

“It’s the best feeling in the world.”

For more information on upcoming Citizenship Clinics, services offered by World Relief, and ways to volunteer call the World Relief Aurora office at 630-264-3171 or visit

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