Merle Daniel-Shymanski is a client of Cabrini Immigration Services of NYC in the Lower East Side. Born in Trinidad and Tobago as Merle Alexander, she was involved in labor relations but became disillusioned about the state of politics. She wanted a fresh start, so in 1992 she immigrated to the United States, leaving behind her six children.
In early 2010, while she was at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, she started talking with a stranger named William Shymanski who would become her husband. After dating for a few months, she revealed her immigration status to him, and he immediately proposed. In June, she and William Shymanski were married, and Merle started working on her citizenship application. She came to Cabrini Immigrant Services, who helped her apply for permanent residency status. In 2011, she became a legal permanent resident, and in March 2015, Merle became a citizen of the United States.
“I’m free to apply for jobs and scholarships,” said Merle. “I can enjoy all the privileges and benefits that citizens are entitled to.” Merle is excited to vote in her first election next year. She still lives in Brooklyn and is currently enrolled in college, studying social work with the help of state and federal scholarships. “I want to serve wherever I can,” she said. Once Merle has a job, she plans on petitioning for her children to come join her in the United States.
“Every member of the staff [at Cabrini] was so helpful,” she said. “They showed me respect. I don’t have the words to describe it, but they treat you like a human being. At Cabrini I got the VIP treatment.”