For years, 10-year-old Daniel Espinosa would watch news reports about the immigration crisis in America and worry that his mom, who works with Restaurant Associates at Harvard Medical School, would be deported back to her native El Salvador.
He can relax now. Armida Espinosa, his mother, recently became a U.S. citizen, in part with the help of an adult-education program for Harvard employees.
“I came here in 2000, but my son didn’t know my legal status. We are immigrants, so when I became a citizen he told me, ‘Oh, they are not going to deport you anymore, mommy,’” she said. “And now as a citizen, I can make my voice count with my vote. I can raise my voice and say what I think.”
Espinosa was one of 14 recently naturalized U.S. citizens honored Wednesday during the annual Citizenship Celebration Dinner at the Harvard Kennedy School. She credited the Harvard Bridge Program with improving her language skills and helping her become an American citizen.
“Before I took the pronunciation class, at my job as a restaurant cashier I asked people, ‘Do you want your receipt?’ People looked at me strange, they thought I was asking, ‘Do you want your recipe?’” she said.