Raising your hand to defend a country of which you are not a citizen is truly one of the greatest sacrifices an individual can make. Since October 2001, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has naturalized over 110,000 members of the military.
The Legal Assistance Department of Region Legal Service Office Northwest (RLSO NW) has been privileged to assist many of these incredible men and women during their naturalization process. On August 4, 2017, aboard USS Anchorage (LPD-23) at Pier 90 in Seattle, ten veterans, retirees, and active duty service members were sworn in as U.S. citizens.
Naturalization ceremonies such as this one take place throughout the year. However, one special ceremony occurs during Seafair, an annual Pacific Northwest tradition which began in 1950. Upon her arrival, Rear Adm. Gary Mayes, commander, Navy Region Northwest, greeted Senator Patty Murray, one of the keynote speakers for this year’s event. Senator Murray spoke of the importance of the naturalization process, as well as its tangible influence on diversifying the state of Washington, and the nation.
The other keynote speaker, Senior Chief Navy Counselor (SW/AW) Jean-Hero Lamy, assigned to Navy Region Northwest, shared with the audience his own incredible story of becoming a U.S. citizen after leaving his native country of Haiti and joining the U.S. Navy. Since 2009, retired Navy Senior Chief Legalman Michael Humphrey, a paralegal and citizenship/naturalization specialist with the RLSO NW Legal Assistance Department, has worked with USCIS to hold a naturalization ceremony during the annual Fleet Week portion of Seafair. In addition to coordinating this particular ceremony, Humphrey has scheduled numerous other naturalization ceremonies on Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day, and Memorial Day.