Even though he was low-keyed about it, Chad Custodio was thrilled about his newly sworn-in citizenship Tuesday at the Manteca Transit Center.
The soft-spoken Stockton youngster, who is originally from The Philippines, was among the 51 recognized at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Naturalization and Citizenship Ceremony hosted by U.S. Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock).
“This is an exciting day,” said Denham. “Often we do this (oath of allegiance ceremony) in big cities – without the support of your community.”
Custodio, who will be entering fifth grade at Stockton Unified’s Washington Elementary School, received a Certification of Naturalization. He qualified for citizenship in this manner by living with his parents after birth and before the age of 18.
Some – they came from seven different countries, including Afghanistan, Mexico, Peru, Uganda, Yemen and the Philippines – were listed as children even though they were adults. They went through the naturalization process based on living with a parent or parents, who, in turn, became U.S. citizens.
Fifty-one earned their certificate of citizenship. They not only had to read, write and speak English but also had to take and pass a test.
Ramon Castillo, who is the USCIS district adjudications officer based in Sacramento, noted that the applicants came from places such as Hong Kong, India, Laos, Mexico, Philippines and Vietnam. Now, they were people from one country.
“Many went through a lot of suffering in their homeland before coming to America,” he said.
Castillo added: “The young people are truly blessed – they can go to school, do what they want to do, and with the freedom to follow their faith.”
Those who took part in the USCIS festivities were from Denham’s 10th Congressional District consisting of Stanislaus County and portions of San Joaquin County.
“We’re a nation of immigrants, a melting pot,” Denham said. “Today marks an important day.”
He was especially thrilled with the hopes and dreams of the young people who became citizens.
“What you do with your opportunity is your decision. That’s what makes this country great,” said Denham.
Manteca police Chief Nick Obligacion indicated that his father, Benjamin Obligacion, who was born in The Philippines in 1919, went through the process of becoming citizen.
“Without that, I would not be standing here as chief (of police),” he said.
J. Lucas Guadarrama no longer had to worry about strings attached to his place of employment.
No sooner than the conclusion of the festivities filled with plenty of pomp and circumstance, the newly sworn citizen and his wife were off and running.
Guadarrama was off to work, where he’s a cellar foreman at a winery.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.