For many aspiring Americans, citizenship means the world to them.

At our recent Dallas Roundtable, two recently naturalized citizens came together to share how citizenship changed their lives in many inspirational ways…

For Hortencia Ortega, citizenship means the opportunity to reunite with her family.

Eight years ago, Ortega left San Luis Potosi, Mexico in search of work to support her three children back home. She worked countless odd jobs and was unable to visit her own family for numerous years. She married an American and, with the help of Proyecto Inmigrante, a NAC partner, she became a citizen.

Ortega is now petitioning for her children. “My citizenship has not only given me work stability and financial freedom, but also the opportunity to [be reunited] with my family,” she said.


For Mario Vargas, citizenship means the opportunity for a brighter future.

Vargas, a 23-year-old political science student, became a citizen to pursue an important internship with a government agency. “I was told that they would accept me if I became a U.S. citizen,” said Vargas at the roundtable.

With the help of Proyecto Inmigrante, he successfully passed his citizenship interview and was very lucky to attend naturalization ceremony on the same day. As promised, Vargas successfully got accepted to an intern position with the government agency.

During the discussion, immigrant rights advocates highlighted the multiple benefits of obtaining citizenship: the right to vote and to work for the government, protection from deportation, the right to travel and live abroad without losing U.S. residency, and petition children and immediate family members.

Citizenship has brought positive changes for Ortega and Vargas.

Yet, there are millions of eligible aspiring Americans like them who have nowhere to turn for citizenship help. This is what we thrive to improve. “We’re here to help complete your N-400 [new] application [form]. We have immigration attorneys and representatives to review your applications,” said Luis Arango-Petrocchi, project manager for the citizenship program at Catholic Charities of Dallas.

“Citizenship is a life-changing experience,” he added.


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