Languages@Muhlenberg.edu
Newsletter 2004
Muhlenberg Partners to Help Immigrants

     This semester I have an internship at the Catholic Social Agency (CSA) in Allentown, where I split my time between the Immigration and Refugee departments. CSA aids clients with the often difficult and confusing task of applying for residency, citizenship or obtaining immigrant visas for relatives in their native countries. I became interested in the CSA because after graduation I would like to work for an agency that provides services for the Latino community here in the United States and approximately 80% of the immigration clients at the CSA come from Spanish-speaking countries. Working in the Immigration Department gives me direct experience with the Latino population here in Allentown in addition to learning about the details involved in the immigration process such as the translation of documents and filling out Immigration and Naturalization forms.
     The Refugee Department is responsible for arranging the sponsorship of a local church for a refugee family. Although I have not begun working in this department, I have already learned the importance difference between an immigrant, who voluntarily chooses to come to America and a refugee, who is forced to flee to America in order to escape torture and religious or political persecution. Refugees often come to America with nothing but the clothes on their back, speak little to no English and know very little about American society and culture. It the job of CSA and local churches to find housing, employment, teach English and any other needs of incoming refugees to the Lehigh Valley area.
     In my short time at CSA, I have not only learned many of the laws and formalities of immigration but my eyes have been opened to the difficulties of obtaining United States residency and citizenship that many Americans take for granted.

--Joanna Schober ‘04