IIBA Clients: Jaime and Yolanda

Jaime and Yolanda attended the Immigration Institute of the Bay Area’s (IIBA’s) citizenship classes every Thursday in Redwood City for almost two years, in preparation for their citizenship test. They took their tests within three days of each other, in June 2019. Both Jaime and Yolanda passed, fulfilling their dreams of becoming U.S. citizens.

In the late 1980s, Jamie fled El Salvador during the country’s devastating civil war, seeking safety in the United States. Around the same time, Yolanda came to the U.S. from Mexico. They first met in an English as a Second Language (ESL) class here in the Bay Area, nearly 30 years ago. They fell in love, got married, and had a baby girl.

As they began their life together, Jaime started to experience the onset of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) which has now confined him to a wheelchair. Jaime and Yolanda faced the challenges of the illness together, raising their daughter, and doing their best to remain positive.

In the fall of 2017, Jaime and Yolanda came to IIBA for help with their citizenship applications and to attend IIBA’s citizenship classes. Every Thursday, after a full day of work, Yolanda, who works as a housecleaner to support the family, would pick Jaime up from their house in South San Francisco, and they would head to IIBA’s Redwood City office for class.

“The environment is very nice here,” Jaime said. “The classmates, the volunteers, everyone. IIBA allows the students to be comfortable here.”

“They tell you to believe in yourself,” Yolanda said. “This is very important.”

Now as a U.S. citizen, Jaime is excited he is eligible to apply for federal jobs that are designed for individuals with disabilities.

Yolanda and Jaime are both very excited to vote in the 2020 election and to support their community as citizens.

“It is important especially now to have a strong voice,” Jaime said. “To be a citizen is to have a voice.”

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