Catholic Charities’ Immigration Program Offers Services Unique to North Louisiana

Wednesday, October 12, was a very special day for seven people in North Louisiana. It was after years of hard work, patience and faith that Ricardo Aranda, Patricia Johnson, Elisa Perez, Jose Genaro Quinonez, Marina Regina Quinonez, Roberto Tovar and Maria Villasenor became citizens of the United States.  This process was made possible by Catholic Charities of North Louisiana’s  (CCNLA) Immigration Integration program and staff members Guiel Hausen and Briana Bianca. Since its inception in 2011, CCNLA’s Immigration Integration program has provided assistance to clients throughout North Louisiana who need legal assistance, representation, advocacy, education and citizenship preparation.  CCNLA is the only local organization that provides immigration assistance; otherwise people would have to travel to New Orleans or Dallas.

Each of these new citizens has a story about their journey, but we wanted to highlight Jose and Maria Quinonez’s story and how they received assistance from Catholic Charities.  Here is a letter they sent to CCNLA.

Dear Guiel:
My husband Jose and I are very grateful for the effective, fast, friendly and compassionate services that we have received in your office.  From the beginning, we felt support in all that we needed, with questions and necessary assistance for our case.  With immediate communication on calls or emails, your staff has been incredibly good; they have shown their support and encouragement at all times, especially to my husband who felt very insecure of becoming a citizen because he received very little education, and we believed that being a citizen was only for the rich and educated. You were so patient in helping him study for his interview. It is very sad to be illiterate, but you inspired him and showed him that he can now learn more.

All of our children are professionals, but it was due to the lessons they learned from my hardworking husband. Since age 14 he was picking strawberries, cotton, and nuts in the lands of this country. After 45 years of hard work, with a broken back, he helped me raise six children successfully. Our children, all born and raised in this country, shall enjoy this citizenship also and that makes us very happy. We are a united family because this country allowed us to be together and to fight together.

We are pleased to take this new step in our lives because we know that becoming American citizens will give us greater stability in this country.  We know that as citizens we will have more responsibilities and benefits that we want to fulfill. Because we love this country, I bless you in the name of Jesus, because he has given us everything we needed since we got here. So now we know that this country will soon have two more voters; we will still gather and collaborate in the community.

There are many feelings in our hearts, but the strongest is the appreciation we have for God and this nation. May God bless the United States of America and its entire government, so that public and private institutions continue working together to continue helping many families like us to fulfill their American dream!

Thank you in advance for your support in moving forward our naturalization case.
Yours Faithfully,
Jose and Maria Quinonez

For more information about Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, please visit our website at  •

by Lucy Medvec

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