Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2018

Washington’s path to citizenship

Mar 01, 2018
On Wednesday, Marcelo and Gabriela Pallacios received their certificates of completion for a six-week class that is the first step to the couple becoming full United States citizens. While they are permanent residents in the U.S., they had not completed the tests to become full citizens. The course was offered by Latinos for Washington Inc.

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


Not very long ago, Marcelo Pallacios and his crew helped build the Washington Public Library, doing some cement work and waterproofing. On Wednesday evening he and his wife Gabriela received certificates of accomplishment in that same library which will allow them to move onto the next step toward American citizenship.

Pallacios said he has been in the United States since he was 5 years old, saying his father was in the amnesty program and is a permanent resident in the U.S.

“I have just been neglecting becoming a U.S. Citizen,” he said. “I don’t know why. Now I think it is time to get it done.”

A bridge builder by trade, he said that many times he is away from home for work and hadn’t had the chance to take the classes to prepare for the test to become a citizen. He said that he had been laid off for two months and took the opportunity to begin studying to become a citizen.

After the six-week course, the couple graduated Wednesday and are waiting for their turn to take the citizenship test. While six people had begun the class, the couple were the only graduates receiving their certificates Wednesday. During the class, which included a mock interview, Mayor Jaron Rosien attended to congraduate the candidates.

“Our Latino population in Washington offers a lot to this community,” he said. “I’m happy to have been invited to stop and say hello.”

Anyone who has been to the Washington Farmers Market knows Gabriella and the Latino corn on the cob she makes in her booth. The couple say once they become citizens they hope to open their own business. She said she hopes to bring everything she sells at the farmers market to a small shop.

Gabriella said her parents had brought her as a child to the U.S. in 1992. She graduated from high school in Columbus Junction. The couple decided to get their citizenship together.

“When I saw that they were giving the free classes I saw it as a great opportunity,” she said. “Not a lot of people do that. No one does them for free, really. So we appreciate them taking time to come and teach us.”

The couple now have to apply to become citizens, wait for a background check to be completed on them, and to be scheduled to take written and verbal tests for citizenship.

Instructor Colleen Sheely said the path to citizenship isn’t as easy as many people think. She said the process can take as long as nine months. It entails filling out a 20-page application, sending in $750 and going to Des Moines for a background check and fingerprints. After that, she said, it is a question of waiting for the interview.

“Here I get them ready for the citizenship interview — the civics test,” she said. “There are three parts of the test. There is a civics test, a writing test and a reading test.”

The citizenship class is offered by Latinos for Washington Iowa. For more information on future classes, see the group’s Facebook page. the group is also beginning to plan for the Latino Festivl that will be held June 3 as part of Summer Classic. The planning event will be at 6 p.m. March 13 in the library.


Comments (2)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Mar 28, 2018 06:43
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Mar 28, 2018 00:25
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