Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia D4 delivered a keynote speech at a naturalization ceremony earlier this week, explained her reason for immigrating to America 30 years ago and congratulated the incoming citizens. Thirty of them from 15 countries swore the Oath of Allegiance and became naturalized U.S. citizens in Tuesday’s ceremony, which was hosted by the City of Dallas and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in conjunction with Flag Day.
The commissioner and practicing dentist told the new citizens that she was in their place 28 years ago. She moved to Dallas from Mexico because she fell in love with an American who made the (valid) point that a Spanish speaking dentist would be less valued in Mexico, where everyone speaks Spanish, than here, where her Spanish would be a huge asset.
“In my case, I came to Dallas because Prince Charming happened to be from a place called Oak Cliff,” she says. “But though we all came for different reasons and in different ways, we’re all here for one thing, opportunity.”
Garcia studied at El Centro, then Baylor College of Dentistry and she has a longstanding dental practice on Jefferson. Her husband was correct. Her Spanish endeared Garcia to Dallas’ Mexican community. Through her practice she became an advocate to Spanish speakers. That eventually led to her life as a public servant.
Tuesday’s candidates hailed from 15 different countries including: Bangladesh, Burma, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, India, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Syria and Vietnam.
Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Jaime Resendez of D5, council members Omar Narvaez (D6), Cara Mendelsohn (D12) and Paul Ridley D14 were also in attendance to congratulate the newly sworn-in U.S. citizens.
Following the ceremony, Mi Familia Vota aided with voter registration and the Dallas Public Library provided information for ceremony guests on local resources related to ESL and civic classes to distribute among their family, friend and neighborhood networks.
Garcia stressed to the candidates that voting is one of their most precious rights and responsibilities as an American citizen.
Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs Division Officer Christina da Silva wrapped up the ceremony, thanking participating departments and groups and assuring attendees that immigrants are a vital part of our communities in Dallas.
“Multiple City of Dallas departments came together to make this event accessible and memorable for our Dallas residents,” she says. “We hope that we can continue partnering with community organizations and agencies such as USCIS to promote naturalization.”
A recording of the naturalization ceremony can be viewed here:
For more information on how to become a naturalized citizen, Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs Division has developed a list of federally recognized nonprofit organizations in Dallas that that have been BIA accredited to provide free or low-cost legal assistance to submit the N400 application to become a naturalized US citizen. The public can view this list via this link bit.ly/Dallascitizenship or call the WCIA phone number 214.671.5087 Monday through Friday from 8-5 to receive a referral.