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"I have waited 30 years for this moment."

Martin is a 59-year-old immigrant from the small village of Parral in Chihuahua, Mexico, where he grew up with his mother, father, one brother and two sisters. When Martin was 14, his father died, and the family suffered tremendous economic hardship. As the oldest son, Martin felt the burden of supporting his family, but there was very little work for a teenager.

In 1987, at the age of 24, Martin made the agonizing decision to leave his home and family and make his way north to work in the U.S. He lived and worked in San Antonio, Albuquerque, and Tucson; and eventually settled in San Diego County, where he worked as a dishwasher and cook at Fidel’s and at the Fish Market in Solana Beach. Today, Martin lives in Oceanside and works as a groundskeeper at the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club. For 35 years, he has sent money to his family in Mexico every month, buying a house for his mother and paying for his brother’s college education.

In 2011, Martin married his wife, Yolanda. Because Yolanda was a U.S. citizen, she was able to sponsor Martin to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). Ten years later, when he spoke with legal representatives at Pathways to Citizenship, Martin realized that his dream of U.S. citizenship might be possible. Pedro and Goretty assured him that Pathways’ caring, experienced tutors could help him improve his English and learn the complicated civics information on the citizenship exam.

After filing for citizenship in November 2021, Martin attended weekly Civics and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Finally, in February 2023, Martin passed his interview and was sworn in as a citizen of the United States. He says, “I was so happy! I waited 30 years for this moment. I love this country, and I give thanks to God every day that I am a citizen.”

Today, Martin is active in the Hispanic Fellowship at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, a proud husband to Yolanda, and a doting parent to his daughter, Allissa Cloie. Martin continues to attend weekly English classes at Pathways to Citizenship, where his twinkling smile and booming laugh fill the room.

Martin with his ESL tutor, Steve

Martin at USCIS with Goretty after his oath

Martin thanks legal director, Morgan, for her help

New citizen Martin in front of the San Diego USCIS offices


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