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How a new Homeland Security office in Nashville aims to help Tennessee's growing immigrant community

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The ribbon was cut Wednesday on the new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Nashville Field Office, along with a dedication of the building in memory of Medal of Honor recipient Lance Corporal José Francisco Jiménez. 

The Nashville office, which opened in May, is the first full-service immigration office that serves a growing immigrant population in Middle and East Tennessee. Before its opening, residents had to drive hours to the Memphis office for services. 

Already, the office works with about 100 people a day, according to USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna, who visited the site Wednesday for the grand opening. 

"There's a pretty good flow and it's every day. It’s a solid field office with a lot of work," Cissna said in an interview with USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee. 

The office handles legal immigration services. In 2017, some 6,600 people in Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga obtained green cards. Just over 3,300 people were naturalized in Middle and East Tennessee in 2017 and 2018. 


The leading countries of origin for people who were naturalized in the Nashville area are Egypt, Mexico, India, Iraq and Burma, according to the agency. Nashville is also home to the largest Kurdish immigrant population in the nation. 

"It's been probably 20 years or longer that Nashville has wanted to have this office here," Nashville Mayor David Briley said. 

"... Nashville is a diverse place these days. We're about 12 percent foreign born. 14,000 people in Davidson County are permanent resident aliens that are not pursuing their citizenship. That's 14,000 people that can't fully engage ... we're gonna work hard to make sure they come visit here," Briley said.



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