February 22, 2011

Atkinson, Conway Attorney Helps Soldier to Obtain Citizenship

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon attorney Neil O'Donnell recently successfully represented Luis Lopez – a 10-year Army service member – in his legal quest to become a U.S. citizen. Mr. Lopez was brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents as an eight-year-old child. After attending school in California, Mr. Lopez enlisted in the Army with a false birth abstract. He subsequently served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and received numerous awards and medals. After he disclosed and attempted to remedy his illegal immigration status, the Army began discharge proceedings against him and an Army personnel manager characterized his military service for the purpose of his immigration application as "not honorable" because of the circumstances of his original enlistment. Mr. Lopez's commanding officer, however, "strongly recommended that SSG Lopez [be] awarded United States Citizenship for his commitment and service to the United States of America." Mr. Lopez's naturalization application was ultimately approved and Mr. Lopez took the oath of citizenship on February 9, 2011. Mr. O'Donnell represented Mr. Lopez on a pro bono basis. The Wall Street Journal published an article about Mr. Lopez's legal journey on February 10, 2011: "Soldier Finds Minefield on Road to Citizenship" http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704570104576124091336851306.html