Making it official |

Making it official

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Edelmira Meza works at Minden Elementary School as a playground and lunch room supervisor.

Edelmira Meza once worked four jobs, but after her children complained they never saw her, she cut back to three.

“I’m making a lot less money,” she said, “but I see them more. You have to pay the price sometimes.”

Meza, 32, from Sinaloa, Mexico, is awaiting notice from the immigration office in Reno that she should come in and take her citizenship test.

Everything else is ready to go.

Her application is in and her fingerprints are done. For the past five months, she’s studied the history of the United States, answering test questions asked of her by her 10-year-old daughter.

“Every day, I am looking for my mail,” she said.

Inspiring Meza is the desire to be a citizen and the ability to vote.

“Sometimes a lot of people have a bad idea about the immigrants – that they just come to live here on welfare,” she said. “That’s not true. I’ve been here for 10 years already and I haven’t asked for anything from the government.

“Sometimes we’ve had bad times when my husband just had one job and I didn’t work. (Only) if we don’t have food for the kids, would we ask for it.”

She takes English classes at night up to three times a week.

“All the people from all countries have good people and bad people,” she said. “The ones that are working that have families, a lot of them have kids. They should have the opportunity to prove that they’re good people and hard workers.

“And I think the ones that are in jail, why are they keeping them there because we’re paying a lot of taxes and they’re having a good life in there. I think the government has to send them back to their country.”

Paulina Grilli, 61, came from Dennyloanhead, Scotland, in 1960 at the age of 15. She didn’t want to work to become a citizen when she first came to the United States.

“I was kind of rebellious,” she said. “I used to say why should I learn about the history when the American people don’t know the history. I just put it off, put it off, put it off.”

A year ago, she changed her mind and started preparing. She studied about the governor, she studied about the House of Representative and she learned the states in the original 13 colonies.

“The hardest part was memorizing (all the answers),” she said.

March 7 was her big day. She reported to the immigration office and tested. She was thrilled to learn she answered 100 percent of her questions correctly.

“I was quite happy about that,” she said. “I feel very good. Now I’m wondering why I didn’t do it sooner.”

She’ll be sworn in as a citizen of the United States on April 21. Her family and colleagues will attend. She thinks illegal immigrants who want to become citizens should be allowed to stay. If they are here to work and lack long-term goals they should go back to their own countries.

“A lot of (illegal immigrants) are getting work that some of the Americans should be getting,” she said. “They’re taking away from the American citizen.”

Fabiana Vega, 51, a native of Sinaloa, who has been in Carson City for the past five years, has already been sworn in.

“It was beautiful,” she said of the Feb. 21. “The ceremony was … everything was beautiful.”

Vega took her citizenship test on Jan. 20. She wants to continue practicing her English and is taking classes twice a week.

“(I came here) for the job, for the life, for my family, the school, for everything,” she said in Spanish.

Vega thinks that the illegal immigrants in the United States that have jobs should be allowed to stay.

• Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.