Originally from Colombia, Efrain came to the United States at the age of 38 in 2016. Efrain was motivated to migrate to the United States because he wanted to stay close to his wife and one year old son. Even though Efrain had his permanent residency and authorization to work in the United States, he felt like he did not fully belong in this country.
It was when Efrain received his citizenship, that he felt fully integrated into American society. He knew that as a citizen he would now have his voice counted during elections and be able to apply for governmental jobs.
Efrain is currently pursuing a degree in Water Resources Management at the University of the District of Columbia, while also serving as a graduate assistant. As Efrain is wrapping up his college career, he shared that he is thankful he can apply for higher-level career opportunities. He recognizes the importance of education and hopes to instill the same mindset for his young boy.
Efrain is thankful for the New American Workforce as the program provided him with guidance in completing required forms and the confidence to pursue his naturalization. Efrain expressed that getting naturalized is a new and foreign process that can be very intimidating, but thanks to support, he was able successfully complete it. He enjoyed the workshops because they provided him with an overview of the naturalization process, that made it appear less daunting.
Efrain encourages others to pursue their citizenship because he believes that it will allow them to fully integrate into the American society and their local communities. He stated that, “when one becomes a citizen, one has a lot of benefits that go beyond just being a permanent resident”. Efrain shared that as a citizen, he has the opportunity to vote during important elections that matter to him. Additionally, he shared that by becoming a citizen, he finally has a sense of security that no matter what administration is in office, his rights will not be stripped or in risk of losing a visa to remain in the United States.
The National Immigration Forum would like to thank Yesenia Gutierrez, Integration Programs intern, for capturing this story.