New genealogy project makes researching Asian American family histories easier

SAN BRUNO, Calif. – After many years, kababayans Vicente Lopez and Joan Marie Bonzo, along with several others, are proud to finally say they are American citizens.

“This is a very important milestone in my life,” said Lopez. “I didn’t jump into this half-heartedly. I really thought deeply about it and I made sure I was ready to accept all the responsibilities as well as the privileges of being a US citizen.”

“I’m very excited to able to vote finally and to be able to travel without getting so many visas,” said Bonzo. “It’s actually nice. It’s a privilege to have and I can finally say I’m an American citizen.”

The celebration of this naturalization ceremony coincides with another event of importance to Asian American communities: the completion of the San Bruno Compaction Project.

As part of the compaction project, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was able to take more than two million files, each documenting the immigration of a person to the United States. They made these records easier to access for those doing genealogical research, making history available to the public.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier said that the project’s completion comes at the right time as we close Asian and Pacific Islander celebration month.

“What a spectacular experience it is to become a US citizen because the community in the Bay Area, San Mateo County has so many Filipino Americans. It’s a very special time,” said Rep. Speier.

These so-called alien, or A-files are immigration case files. The government used to destroy them, but after 75 years they will be preserved indefinitely.

Files can be accessed by the public at the National Archives’ San Bruno research room. Copies are also available through the mail and online.

Follow Rommel Conclara on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.

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