Former refugee achieves dream with help from Elon Law clinic

Elon Law student Ben Snyder and his Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic client Lynn Knul had cause to celebrate on February 24, when Knul, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, becoming one of the nation's newest citizens.

From left, Daniel and Lynn Knul, with third-year Elon Law student Ben Snyder, who helped Lynn Knul achieve approval to become a U.S. citizen through Elon Law’s Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic

While becoming a U.S. Citizen is an event of great importance in the life of any immigrant, for Knul, it is more meaningful than most. Lynn is a former Montagnard refugee—a member of the indigenous group of people from the mountains of Vietnam that worked alongside US Special Forces during the Vietnam War. She is also a wife and mother of two young children.

Knul found out that she has terminal cancer in 2011, and among the many changes that this news brought to her life was an increased drive to complete her journey to citizenship. When asked why U.S. citizenship is so important to her, Lynn responds very matter-of-factly.

“I want to be American,” Knul says. “And I want my children to see me and to be proud of me.”

Elon Law student Ben Snyder first started working with Lynn in the fall of 2011, through Elon’s Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic. Through the advocacy efforts of the clinic, and through her own significant efforts to prepare for the citizenship exam, Lynn’s request for citizenship was approved. Before becoming a U.S. citizen yesterday, at the Federal courthouse in downtown Greensboro, Knul and her husband shared a traditional Montagnard lunch with faculty and students of Elon’s Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic. The clinic served more than 600 clients in 2011, its first year of operation.

Click here for a front page article in the News & Record about Knul‘s journey to becoming a U.S. citizen.

Click here for information on the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic at Elon Law.


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