Today, immigration stories make expansive negative news headlines. Seldom are there heartwarming tales about immigrants who strive to become American citizens.
Every Friday morning and afternoon, qualified immigrants are ceremoniously inducted as citizens of the United States at the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Office in Raleigh. These immigrants come from the world over, seeking a better life in America.
Jennifer Raymundo, a single mother and her son, emigrated from San Salvador via California to Durham in 2012. She is an employee of Croasdaile Village Retirement Community in Durham.
As a resident of Croasdaile Village, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Jennifer as my weekly housekeeper in the community. The following is her heartwarming story, which I’m proud to share.
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Along with working a full-time job, caring for her son, learning to drive and being heavily involved in her church, Jennifer studied diligently for six years to meet the requirements to become a citizen of the United States. Incidentally, she passed the final examination with no incorrect answers.
For Jennifer, it was several nervous and prayerful weeks that led to one of her happiest days: notification of her induction date.
Jennifer’s ambition, work ethic, perseverance, responsibility and caring have endeared her to the residents at Croasdaile Village. All who were available and physically able wanted to support her at this ceremony. It was a huge disappointment to Jennifer that her son was unable to miss school due to special end-of-year testing. However, more than 15 of us tried to make up for it, boarding the Croasdaile Village bus to the USCI Office for the celebratory event.
What an incredible event it was! Each of the 50 immigrants, from 30 countries, were escorted individually and introduced as they entered the auditorium. When called to receive their papers, they were registered to vote and learned where and how to obtain their passports. An appropriate and welcoming message was shown by President Trump, and a panoramic and impressive display of important landmarks throughout our country followed.
The more than 100 family members and friends who attended the ceremony cried joyful tears and displayed looks of pride and happiness as we heard the new citizens recite together the Pledge of Allegiance, led by our own Jennifer Raymundo. Once the events of that special day had ended, Jennifer returned to doing the work she tells me she’s grown to love.
The next time I saw her was when she came for her weekly cleaning, and we talked, laughed and cried over the remembrance. Jennifer, with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye, said, “I was a little scared when they took my ‘green card’, but then so happy I didn’t need it anymore!”
While we may continue to see immigration stories that are less than positive in nature, those of us who know Jennifer and have come to support her in her journey know well that the American Dream is still alive.