Central Texas women help people become U.S citizens

By  | 

KILLEEN,Texas (KWTX) Dora Galdamez and Marisela Barrera proudly show their love for the country anyway they can.

“I feel very blessed with my life and I want to give back to the community,” said Galdamez.

She is a veteran who came to the country from Mexico when she was 9-years-old.

She got her citizenship and joined the military and served for more than 20 years.

Now retired, Galdamez decided to help others and hosts a citizenship classes at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Killeen.

“We have seen the numbers grow. We went from 1 class to 2 classes at the same time and the classes are bigger,” said Galdamez.

For 15 weeks, every Saturday, the classes teach people key topics of the citizenship exam, they do mock interviews to build up their confidence.

Each class lasts three hours.

“They are afraid to go and take the interview. They are afraid they are not going to pass, they are afraid they are going to be deported."

This year, more than 50 people of 11 nationalities have signed up to take the test.

It is the largest class they have ever seen, but one thing is still a struggle for people

“The cost is very big. It's $725 right now. Sometimes it's not one person trying to become a U.S. citizen, it's the whole family” said Galdamez.

The classes are for free.

“The reason why we give everything for free is because a lot of people pay $1,000 for someone to fill out the application. Sometimes it's a person who is not certified or accredited by anybody” said Galdamez.

For Marisela Barrera, her path took almost two decades from permanent resident to become a U.S citizen.

Both women said they support President Donald Trump’s stance on legal immigration.

“I’m dreaming because what I’ve seen in these two years, it's just getting better and better. There is no reason why people should say they can't become a U.S. citizen. Because, if I can do it, they can, too,” said Barrera.

To take the class people have to be a permanent resident for five years or for those married to a U.S citizen you must be a resident card holder for three years.

Classes are taught in English and in Spanish, for Spanish speakers, you must be at least 50 and a resident card holder for 20 years.

Marisela has been a U.S. citizen for more than a year now and encourages others to be patient and go through the process.

“They shouldn't be scared of anything. Just go with the day. Do your best” said Barrera.

Anyone who is interested must register at St. Joseph’s Church.