Great Plains Literacy Council adult learners (l to r) Reyes Granado and Jesus Villegas, both natives of Mexico, met recently at the Altus Public Library to congratulate each other in achieving US citizenship and to talk to the literacy staff about their success of naturalization. Both men completed the requirements, passed the examination, and attended the ceremony where they each swore an the oath of allegiance to the United States.
Two Great Plains Literacy Council adult learners from Altus achieved their goals of becoming US citizens recently. Citizenship ceremonies in Oklahoma City were held on March 30 for Jesus Villegas and on April 17 for Reyes Granado.
They met this week at the Altus Public Library to show their citizenship certificates to the literacy staff. Both men expressed happiness because of the privileges and responsibilities of being US citizens. They were quick to give thanks to their Great Plains Literacy Council tutor Noel Beltran. A little over two years ago, Mr. Villegas started the citizenship process with Mr. Beltran, and Mr. Granado started in November 2011 with the same tutor. Bi-lingual Facilitator Aleida Burchett gave assistance to both adult learners also.
“The hardest part for me was finally making a decision to become a citizen as I had put it off for a long time,” said Reyes Granado, while Jesus Villegas said that studying the civics questions was the hardest part for him. The test included questions over the US government and history.
Immigrants must have lived in the United States continuously for five years before applying for the citizenship process. Mr. Villegas came in 1970 to Durant, Oklahoma, and arrived in Altus three years later to work in agriculture, but he has worked at Bar-S Foods Company for the past 13 years. In 1973 Mr. Granado stopped in Gainesville, Texas, for one year and then to Altus in l974 to begin working at the Cotton Compress where he is still employed.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services administer the application process. Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) over the age of 18 who meet the eligibility requirements can apply for US citizenship.
When asked why they each waited so long, they agreed that their language was a barrier as applicants must demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak. They are both Spanish speakers, so learning some English took time. The Great Plains Literacy Council programs continue to help adults learn the English language with the civics-related information they need to become citizens.
Mr. Granado had stated that he had not felt it was important being a citizen, but then he changed his mind when he started working and living here. Now both men are excited that they had passed the testing, which requires attentive study of the country’s history, government and laws.
To find out more about literacy and citizenship services from the Great Plains Literacy Council, contact the Altus Public Library, 421 N. Hudson, or call 477-2890.