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Elon Law students celebrate conclusion of citizenship quest

With help from the university's Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, Y Srai achieved a longtime goal on Aug. 19, 2016, when he took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America. 

Elon Law students and faculty surround Y Srai and the Hon. Loretta Biggs, who presided over the Oath of Allegiance administered to nearly five dozen immigrants earning their U.S. citizenship on Aug. 19, 2016.

A man who endured years of captivity after helping U.S. Special Forces during the Vietnam War fulfilled a longtime dream this summer when he was sworn in as a United States citizen – an achievement celebrated by several Elon Law students in attendance.

Y Srai relocated to the United States in 2008. He stood alongside 55 other immigrants in the federal courthouse in downtown Greensboro on Aug. 19, 2016, as they recited the Oath of Allegiance in a special session of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Srai’s journey to citizenship was achieved through assistance from Elon Law’s Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic. Rebecca Forte L’16, who worked in the clinic during her legal studies, represented Srai in his citizenship proceedings.

Elon Law students Caitlin Mitchell and Christopher "Chris" Anderson chat with Y Srai following his Oath of Allegiance in an Aug. 19 citizenship ceremony in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Students in attendance at the ceremony were part of the August term's Public Law & Leadership Practicum course. The Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic is one of four clients receving legal research assistance by the second-year students enrolled in the leadership class. 

The Hon. Loretta Biggs presided over the afternoon ceremony and gave special recognition to Srai in open court.

Starting in 1970, Srai served alongside U.S. Special Forces, where he sustained several combat injuries in his fight against the Viet Cong. He was later captured and imprisoned for eight years by the Communist Regime of North Vietnam. In 2008 Srai was brought to the United States as a refugee on account of the persecution that he faced in Vietnam.

“His family and friends, and his advocates from Elon Law, were delighted to see him fulfill his longtime dream of achieving U.S. citizenship at Friday’s ceremony,” said Assistant Professor Heather Scavone, director of the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic.

Elon Law students Jessica Chong and Caitlin Mitchell celebrated Y Srai's citizenship as part of an August term course focused on public law and leadership.

Since its founding in 2010, the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic has served more than 1,700 refugees and asylum seekers, making it one of North Carolina’s most prolific nonprofit immigration legal services providers.

Applicants for refugee or asylum status must demonstrate that they were persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, and must meet other legal criteria.

The Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic assists clients in applying for political asylum, permanent residency, citizenship, and employment authorization, as well as reunifying families separated by war and conflict.


Eric Townsend,
8/22/2016 2:25 PM