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JUNE 30, 1997

Opinion

Thank you to the district office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service

US citizenship With the Fourth of July approaching, I would like to take a moment to say "thank you" to the district office of a federal agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. It is a note of thanks echoed by literally hundreds of thousands of new Americans every year, and it reflects on what we, as Americans, truly are.
   The Seattle office of the INS, with Richard Smith at the helm as District Director, has been responsible for such nationally-recognized pilot programs as the Outreach Program, which has worked in conjunction with numerous institutions to grant citizenship for many who may now count themselves as United States citizens for the first time in their lives. It is an honor that they cherish ... perhaps more than the average citizen can ever understand.
   Mr. Smith, along with such people as Senior Examiner Cheryl Zeh and her staff, Terry, Patrick, Juan, Shelly, Jeff, Zeek, Sylvia, and Public Affairs Officer Irene Mortenson, to name a few, should be recognized for the excellent work they have done. They continue to work tirelessly, regardless of continuing budget and staff cuts, and what must, at times, seem to be a stunning rise in applications for citizenship.
   Add to that the recent impacts to the application process due, in part, to FBI background check delays, and you have a mountain of work. In spite of this, Mr. Smith and his staff have attempted to facilitate the application process by adding additional swearing-in ceremonies during their already intensive weekly schedule.
   I personally know of many people who would not be Americans right now, were it not for the care and dedication of these select individuals, their counterparts across the country, and their commitment to a most important job. So, from myself, as well as countless others, I would like to take a moment and say thank you to this most unique branch of our government and its staff.
   This is one part of Uncle Sam without which most of our families would never have been allowed to become a part of this great country.

Greg Gourley