Celestino was thirty-one when he moved from Colombia to the United States seven years ago. He decided to immigrate because of his love for his wife, a U.S. Citizen, who was relocated to work in Washington D.C. Now a U.S. citizen himself, when asked what citizenship means to him, he says, “It means being able to vote and have full constitutional rights to demand that the rights of the majority of the population and immigrant population are fulfilled in the U.S.”
Before starting the citizenship process, Celestino wanted to become a U.S. citizen for two reasons. He says, “First, to be able to have greater legal backing when defending the rights of the immigrant population. It is not the same as defending their rights with a green card, when they can deport you at any time, compared to defending immigrant rights as a citizen.” He also wanted to become a U.S. citizen to no longer spend all of the money and time applying for green card renewals.
After learning about the New American Workforce program through the D.C. Government, Celestino attended a citizenship workshop. Having now finished the process, he says, “I would like to thank the program for providing legal advice and for providing an opportunity for a green card holder to advance.” Celestino now actively encourages other friends who are residents to become U.S. citizens. He says, “When I started the naturalization process, I told four friends that they should also start the process. They sent all their applications, attended their fingerprint appointments, and now they’re waiting for their interviews. By telling my friends, I was able to study with them for the civics exam.”
In Celestino’s words, “This is a beautiful country, with beautiful people, who deserve a beautiful future.”