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The Path to Citizenship: An American Success Story

Updated: Feb 20

"In 1963, my father brought my two brothers and I to the United States. He had been working in Southern California for about 10 years and had received a letter of support from his employer to bring his family over. He had been working primarily in the Indio Valley and Oxnard, CA area, but settled in Sanger, CA when we joined him.

My brothers and I received our green cards in 1965, and we attended Sanger Unified schools. In November of 1971, I enlisted in the United States Army where I served for two years before joining the Army Reserves. By enlisting, I was eligible for citizenship, but dual citizenship was not an option. I declined as I was not ready to give up my Mexican citizenship.

Although my brothers and I came to the U.S. to join our father, my mother and sister had remained in Mexico. My Mexican citizenship allowed to visit as often as I could. I married my wife in 1975, and together we have two grown sons and two beautiful granddaughters. Now that I am retired, I knew it was finally time to pursue citizenship. The citizenship test is a major part of the process, and thankfully the Education and Leadership Foundation was there to help me prepare. I heard they were offering classes to help individuals like me prepare for the test, and I spent several weeks (once-a-week) at their office studying, learning, and preparing.

I took the test in June 2023 and am proud to announce that I passed! After being in the United States, serving in the Army, and raising my family here, I am finally a citizen. And in November of 2024, I will vote for the first time in my life.

Thank you to Education and Leadership Foundation for your profound support and assistance through the process and for helping others like me!" - Rafael Espinosa

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