Christmas can be a special time of receiving gifts, but Andres Ortiz of Altus received his gift early…the US citizenship! Unlike some presents, his citizenship was not free as it took determination, money, study, time and hard work to learn about the United States. He passed the citizenship test on Nov. 9 and attended a formal ceremony in Oklahoma City on December 8th to swear a solemn oath to this country. His wife Hortencia traveled with him to give support at the ceremony.
“I am very happy about becoming a new American, and I am thankful to all who helped me at the Great Plains Literacy Council at the Altus Public Library,” said Ortiz. “I knew I wanted to become a citizen for many years.
Andres grew up in Mexico. He first came to Houston, Texas, in 1974 and later arrived in Altus as his cousin said there were better jobs in this area. He has worked in maintenance with the Altus Public Schools since 1987. Using his “Green Card” entitled him to permanent US residency with immigration status, but it had to be renewed every ten years. The citizenship study really began in 2009 when Ortiz enrolled in a Great Plains Literacy Council’s citizenship group class held at the Plantation Assisted Living Center. Maria Shelley, the volunteer tutor from the Altus Air Force Base, taught weekly classes for eight weeks on social studies, writing, speaking, and the testing procedure. Later Noel Beltran became his tutor. But due to other conflicts, he put his goal on hold for a few years. Then in April 2015, he notified the literacy council that he wanted to reach his citizenship goal. In August, Andres traveled to the Naturalization Service in Oklahoma City to begin the background check process before the final exam.
The Great Plains Literacy Council wants to congratulate Andres Ortiz for his work in studying and passing the U.S. citizenship requirements.
Ida Fay Winters is the Great Plains Literacy Council Coordinator