27 new citizens
Surrounded by family and friends, 27 local people became U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony last week.
The new citizens, who spent at least six months preparing for the citizenship test, represented nine countries — Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Iraq, the Philippines, the Ukraine and Vietnam.
Speaking before the crowd gathered at the Quincy Valley Business & Conference Center, Keith Brown, field office director for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office in Yakima, told the crowd that the people taking the citizenship oath “for a brief moment in history will be the brand-newest” citizens in this country.
“So to you 27 people, relish in your success because you have truly earned it,” Brown said.
The naturalization ceremony, held on Jan. 21, was the culmination of several months of studying by those people participating in the ceremony. The citizenship classes are hosted by Pastor Juan Carlos Magallanes and the Heritage Multicultural Baptist Church. Through the church, Magallanes also hosts ESL and computer classes. The classes this year were paid for in part with a grant from Microsoft.
Last week, the new citizens took an oath of allegiance before being presented with their citizenship certificates. The ceremony was only the second one held in Quincy; the first was held two years ago.
Keynote speaker John Boyd, superintendent of the Quincy School District, called upon the group to reach out to others in the community through volunteering.
“I’m counting on you to go forward and help us be a better place,” Boyd said. “I know you will.”
Miguel Valle, 13, an eighth-grader in Quincy, watched as his mother, Norma Valle, took the citizenship oath. His father went through the ceremony two years ago.
Valle said he is “extremely proud” of his mother. And, more importantly, his parents’ U.S. citizenship status gives the teen peace of mind. He now doesn’t have to worry about being separated from his family if someone were to be deported, Valle said.
Among the new citizens was Guadalupe Meza Castillo, 72, who has lived in Quincy for seven years. Castillo came to the country from Jalisco, Mexico.
Castillo studied three hours a day for eight months. She passed the test with a perfect score. Her goal now as a citizen is to better her life and continue to improve her English, she said.
For information about future citizenship classes, contact Magallanes at 398-4675.
— By Jill FitzSimmons, firstname.lastname@example.org