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Persistence to Naturalize Pays off

September 15, 2016
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Celia and Alfredo Ramirez moved to the United States from Mexico in 1998. Celia came with a green card for which her daughter petitioned and Alfredo on a tourist visa, later becoming a lawful permanent resident as well.

More than a decade ago the Ramirezes applied for citizenship as soon as they were eligible. Both failed on account of their English language proficiency.

Rather than renew their green cards, Celia and Alfredo applied for citizenship again this past year, this time with help from the East Bay Naturalization Collaborative, a New Americans Campaign partner.

This time around, their age made them eligible for a language exemption, and they were able to take the civics exam in their native Spanish. This time they passed, and on Sept. 7 Celia and Alfredo were sworn in as new U.S. citizens.

The East Bay Naturalization Collaborative helped them through the process – from completing the N-400 application, to helping them study for the civics test. Celia and Alfredo also participated in a citizenship workshop organized by the collaborative.

“We were very upset when we were unable to pass the test ten years ago,” says Alfredo. “Today, we are happy and proud to be American citizens.”

Yoshira Mendez, a coordinator with the East Bay Naturalization Collaborative, helped the Ramirezes through the naturalization process.

“I’m glad that Celia and Alfredo trusted us to help them reapply,” says Yoshira. “They were very happy when they passed their exam, and that excitement continues to inspire our work in helping others achieve their dream of U.S. citizenship.”

The benefits of citizenship motivated Celia and Alfredo to reapply after ten years.. Now, they look forward to accessing more benefits, voting and the added protection of not being deportable from a country they’ve called home for 18 years.