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Waiting for the Citizenship Document...

Posted May. 18, 2005 23:15,   


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta’s daily newspaper, reported on May 17 that a Korean family who applied for U.S. citizenship was unable to attend their relative’s funeral due to a delay in the issuance of their citizenship certificates.

In the readers’ column, Kim Jin, a second grader at Westminster High School in Atlanta, said, “I still have not received my citizenship certificate probably because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I thought I would get it within 750 to 800 days (from July to September 2004) after applying for it in June 2002 when I came to the U.S., the ‘Land of Dreams and Freedom,’ four years ago.”

Meanwhile, upon the news of his grandfather’s death in Korea in January, he was about to come to Korea in vain. Then an immigration office worker told him, “It is impossible for the citizenship applicants in waiting to leave the U.S. due to technical reasons.”

Kim’s family made an inquiry to the office to get a travel permit legally in order to visit Korea, but was told they had to wait for two months with application fees of $120. Even their lawyer said, “It is possible to get a travel permit, but no one can guarantee their return to the U.S.” So they had no choice but to give up attending the funeral.

Later, Kim even had to sacrifice an opportunity to study in Italy for a year, which is only provided to academically talented students, due to the identification issue. Kim said, “The U.S. has become my second home, but ironically the ‘Land of Freedom and Dreams’ blocked my dream to see my grandfather for the last time and my freedom to study abroad.”

Jong sik Kong kong@donga.com