Immigrants Make This Farm Town Work. Now They’re Applying For Citizenship : The Salt : NPR

Student Gabriela Cardenas, left, asks a question of citizenship class instructor Marissa Velazquez at the Brush, Colo., public library.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media


hide caption

toggle caption

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Student Gabriela Cardenas, left, asks a question of citizenship class instructor Marissa Velazquez at the Brush, Colo., public library.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

At the public library in the rural Morgan County town of Brush, Colo., Marissa Velazquez welcomes her students to class. It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and today marks the halfway point in Velazquez’s class, a 10-week crash course on American history, civics and English.

Nearly all of the students work in either meatpacking or dairying. Everyone in it has the same goal: become an American citizen. In two hours, Velazquez runs through voting rights, the legislative process and some grammar tips.

Pop quiz: When do we celebrate the venerable American holiday of Flag Day?

Answer: June. Despite the fact that many natural-born Americans likely don’t know the answer, Flag Day is a potential topic on the test for U.S. citizenship.

While Velazquez runs through the history of voting rights in the U.S., she asks the students if any of them would have been able to vote in the mid-1800s. The answer is no. No student would have been able to vote in America’s early years. The class includes middle-aged women and young men of Mexican and Central American descent, and men from war-torn African countries.

Instructor Melissa Velazquez teaches prospective naturalized citizens about U.S. civics and history.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media


hide caption

toggle caption

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Instructor Melissa Velazquez teaches prospective naturalized citizens about U.S. civics and history.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Morgan County has anchored its local economy to agriculture. A meatpacking plant, cheese factory, sugar beet processing plant and large dairy farms provide plentiful yet grueling jobs that require little proficiency in English, just hard manual labor. That has made the rural county a magnet for migrating immigrants and refugees. It now holds sizeable Somali, Mexican, Ethiopian, El Salvadoran,…

Read the full article from the Source…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *