Some refugees are fleeing extremely dangerous governments. Can you imagine what fears, concerns, hopes, and questions may fill their minds. What is the government here really like? How might they end up in trouble? How can they make sure they follow the laws? And what will it take to become a true citizen in their new home?
Other immigrants come from governments that are similar to yours. You can also help them in their process of becoming productive citizens in a new land.
In order to help your friends take steps towards citizenship, you can learn about your governments laws and services regarding immigration. In the USA you can find out from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services and for Canada go to Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Help them prepare for their citizenship test.
One church member in Rockford, Illinois took the immigrants from Myanmar out to eat to celebrate on the day they received their citizenship.
Tell them about certain laws. You might say, “You may already know this, but since rules are different in every country, I want to tell you about some things you should know in America. It may help you or a friend of yours to stay out of trouble.” Then help them know what could happen if they used or sold drugs, if there was physical abuse in the home, polygamy, sex with minors or if they left children unsupervised. You could mention the rules about no alcohol before age 21, no alcohol in the car, and the necessity of permits to have firearms or to go hunting or fishing. Don’t assume they know about seatbelt laws in the car or where smoking is allowed. You want them to learn without having to pay a fine or going to jail!
Help them know that the police are there to help them. They may come from a country where police could be easily bribed or were even connected with the mafia. Help them know that even if they are arrested, they will be given a hearing and a chance to speak.
(Add Terri Saelee’s story about the man who went to prison).