By Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
March 26, 2014
RED ROCK CANYON, Nevada – The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area played host to more than 90 newly naturalized citizens, 23 of those citizens are immigrants from the Philippines.
“Citizens from the Philippines were very well represented and most naturalization ceremonies in Las Vegas I think are fairly high percentage are from the Philippines,” said District Court Judge Phil Pro.
One of the new American citizens is 95-year old Cristina Villanueva Calimlim.
“Matagal kong hinintay ito,” said Calimlim.
It was Calimlim’s wish to become an American citizen. It was a wish come true with the help of her grandson, Carlos Jazmin.
“Sa Guam sila nauna. One day, when she was staying with my mom, I visited sabi ko ‘don’t you ever want to be a US citizen?’ And she said ‘Of course I do. But nobody would want to help me with the process’. So sabi ko I would help you out, so six months later here we go,” Jazmin said.
Calimlim is a native of Manaoag, Pangasinan. Her daughter petitioned her to come to the United States in 1976, but over time, she never bothered to apply for US citizenship.
“She is really happy. Naiiyak siya and she is really thankful na she finally become a US citizen after that many years. It’s one of her wishes kaya ginawa ko I helped her,” he said.
As a new American citizen, Calimlim said she wants to experience the thrill and excitement of becoming a first-time voter in America.
In 2013, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, USCIS, reported that they welcomed more than 9,500 new US citizens in the state of Nevada–8,288 of those were through the Las Vegas Office.
The USCIS said that Nevada is one of the largest avenues in attaining citizenship for Filipinos in America.