Coronavirus pandemic leaves documented immigrants in limbo

Many employees furloughed as immigration offices remain closed

DETROIT – When Zak Pashak came to the U.S. from Canada in 2010, he came to build American bikes -- building his Detroit Bikes shop from the ground up.

“I fell in love with the city,” Pashak said. “I knew I wanted to move here.”

Since that moment, he got married, had two sons and business is booming, but he’s been waiting nine years to become a citizen. His final interview was scheduled in March -- and then the coronavirus outbreak began.

July 4, 2020 update: Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 65,533, Death toll now at 5,972

“I actually was scheduled to do the interview and for some paperwork reason, when we showed up my file wasn’t there ready for them,” Pashak said. “So, I actually would have had this all squared away by now, but then in the wait time between when they actually did get the file that’s when the pandemic hit and they shut down the building.”

Pashak isn’t alone. According to a recent report from the immigration watchdog group Boundless Immigration, more than 100,000 immigrants were left in limbo adding to the overall immigration backlog that tops 2.5 million, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

For Pashak, becoming an American was more than rooting himself in the city of Detroit, it was about opportunity, helping the people he hopes to call his country men and women; and the chance to vote.

Pashak has a standing appointment with Immigration Services when offices do reopen. If offices don’t reopen, Pashak and nearly 8,000 would-be citizens in Michigan will be unable to vote in the 2020 Election.

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