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Becoming a New American

  July 4, 2022

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The resettlement process doesn’t end once our clients safely relocate to their new communities. This is often just the beginning step on their path to building a new life in the United States.  In celebration of Independence Day, we’d like to recognize some of those whose journey has brought them to New England.

IINE’s Legal Services: FACTS AND FIGURES for FY22  

IINE’s Immigration Legal Services department delivers low-cost and no-cost legal services to refugees and immigrants, helping them to navigate the system to establish legal residency and citizenship. The numbers below reflect clients served by our legal team since October of 2021.

  • Clients served: 1,402
  • Active citizenship cases: 95 
  • Clients sworn in as U.S. citizens: 89  


Patricia with family


When Patricia Kalambayi was 17, her family was forced to leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo after her father was killed. Patricia, her siblings, and her mother fled to Uganda for safety. In Uganda, they received English lessons, and waited eleven years before they were finally permitted to come to the United States.  

In 2016, the family was resettled in Lowell. IINE staff helped find them a home and assisted Patricia and her brother with their college applications. Patricia’s sister completed the IINE Certified Nursing Assistant program. Achieving citizenship was an important next step on this family’s journey. IINE Immigration Legal Services Coordinator, Ashley Wellbrock walked the Kalambayi family through the citizenship process: “She helped with everything,” Patricia says. “Without her… nothing would have been possible.” By the end of 2021, Patricia and her siblings had gained their U.S. citizenship. Patricia’s mother will be doing her interview later this year. The family is thrilled to call themselves Americans.



On June 9, 2022, with the support of IINE Immigration Legal Services team and Associate Attorney, Kate Bertino, an Iraqi client A.A., was sworn in as a U.S. citizen.  

A. was born deaf. He was denied the opportunity to finish school in his native country and never received formal sign language education in any language. Nevertheless, he was determined and resourceful. After entering the U.S as a refugee in 2014, A.A. started teaching himself ASL with the support of YouTube videos, and in 2019 he started collaborating with IINE’s legal services to become a citizen.  His resettlement journey presented a unique set of challenges– obtaining a deaf caseworker and a medical disability waiver were essential for the case’s success. But with the support of attorney Kate Bertino, IINE was able to provide him with free legal services and an ASL interpreter. 

Becoming a U.S. citizen will not only allow him to vote, something he’s very excited about, but also continue to receive disability support from the federal government and other services vital for immigrants and refugees to thrive in our communities. 

“I am honestly very grateful for working with Ashley Wellbrock throughout the process of getting my naturalization. Ashley was super kind, very responsive to my emails and would even send me reminders on my appointments with immigration. She reviewed civics materials with me before my test and she was so encouraging. I would totally recommend to any immigrants IINE’s services. Great people.” 

Meryl Dike Mbombo, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo and New American 





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