Harvest is a community filled with people from all walks of life. We love celebrating our neighbors and learning their story. We recently were able to celebrate Harvest neighbor Joel Dominguez as he became a United States citizen! The joy on his face and how proud he is to finally be an American renewed my love of country. The issue of immigration stirs intense emotions, but Joel’s journey to citizenship is worth sharing. I asked him to share just a little of his story:
“On January 26, 2023, I became a United States Citizen! It was a day that I have dreamt about for so many years, 23 to be exact. I am so thankful to God and for the opportunity to grow up in this great country. My parents separated and my mom decided to move to the United States to start a new life and provide a better future for me and my brother. Several years had passed when my mom asked if I wanted to live with her. I was only 13 when I left Mexico. I did not fully understand the journey I was about to go on nor did I realize that I would never see my dad again. He passed away three years later. My journey, just like many other immigrants, was difficult. My mom explained to me that someone would pick me up and smuggle me into the United States. This was the only way for me to get to my mom. As hard as it was for me to leave my hometown, family and friends, I left with hopes just like many other immigrants…to have better life. I witnessed and experienced so many things that I had never been exposed to once I arrived at the border. The process of crossing undocumented was very hard as you can imagine. I swam across the Rio Grande, walked overnight for countless hours, and was put in the trunk of a car for a long ride. I was scared, tired, and hungry. I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it. God gave me strength. He guided and protected me. I was finally reunited with my mom and started my new life in America. Looking back, it’s hard to believe I survived that at such as young age. Thanks to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), I was able to find relief from deportation and was allowed to work legally. This was a blessing but a temporary solution. A few years after my wife and I were married, we started the immigration process to get my green card. The process to become a United States citizen is a long one. It was only recently that I was finally able to qualify for citizenship. Citizenship has been something my wife and have prayed for in the last 10 years of our marriage. I am so thankful for the life I have in this country with my family and that my children will never have to go through what I had to in order to become a United States citizen. I am so excited to be able to join them in singing, “I am proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free…” and I am excited to finally be able to vote!”
I am thankful for Joel and his family and the willingness to share his story. I hope his vulnerability and his love of this country, inspires and revives your patriotic spirit.