One hundred and twenty people from around the world – not just from Mexico, but also Colombia, El Salvador, the Philippines, Vietnam and Poland – on Wednesday in Brownsville took the U.S. Oath of Allegiance to become citizens of the United States.
The group also said the pledge to the flag and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” all part of the naturalization ceremony.
The celebration, held at the Reynaldo G. Garza-Filemon B. Vela Courthouse, started with a motion that the applications for citizenship of the 120 people seated before the court be granted. U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle granted the motion and asked them to stand for the posting of the colors — the presentation of the flag — by the Lopez High School ROTC Color Guard.
A representative of the Daughters of American Revolution spoke, noting that she was “happy that you have chosen to become citizens because of the opportunities that you’ll be able to have.” The DAR, an organization founded in 1890 that has 3,000 chapters nationwide, provides scholarships for naturalized citizens, among other activities.
Border Patrol Agent Jon Fuentes led the group in the national anthem and received the thanks of the judge for the time he volunteers to sing at naturalization ceremonies. Tagle joked that you can count on Fuentes to get the words right – unlike the mishap at the Super Bowl Sunday.
The speaker at the ceremony was new citizen José Ernesto Galván Eyssautier, who twice has come to the United States from Matamoros — once with his parents when he was 2 and later on his own.
In 1976, he graduated from the University of the Americas Technology Institute in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, with a degree in electrical and mechanical engineering and a minor in mathematics and computer science. In 1985, he joined the Brownsville Fire Department — a way, he said, to give back to the community for the opportunities he found in this country.
Galván said it has been a long journey, and he credited his parents for their example. One lesson he holds close to his heart is from his father, who instilled a strong work ethic: “Whatever your job is, do it and do it well.”
Next week Galván begins his 26th year as a firefighter. He chose to become a citizen, he said, for the “freedom and the opportunity.”