Citizenship class graduation

Attendees say the Pledge of Allegiance during a citizenship class graduation Saturday, July 7, 2018, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Killeen.

Fifty legal residents from 11 nations received graduation certificates Saturday from a citizenship course conducted by the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 4535 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Killeen.

The free course, which prepares legal permanent residents for naturalization interviews conducted by the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services, was the largest ever held in the council’s four-year history of holding classes, according to Raul Villaronga, secretary/treasurer for the council.

Due to high demand, the council will hold another citizenship course from Aug. 18 to Dec. 8.

The course will be from 2 to 5 p.m. every Saturday at the Copperas Cove Public Library in Cove.

Villaronga said the course, which has an English as a Second Language element and helps applicants with legal assistance, has increased in size each year.

“We have had a bigger and better class each year — and we are just beginning,” he said.

One of the most difficult portions of applying for naturalization is a $750 fee for applicants.

However, donations from the Wal-mart at 1400 Lowes Blvd., the council and fellow class members helped defray the cost of two applicants’ fees.

The two applicants — Tracy Estanilaus, originally of Palau, and Martha Elena Ramos, originally of Mexico — were both awarded the financial assistance due to their mock naturalization interview results and attendance.

To become a naturalized citizen, applicants must be legal permanent residents for five years and be at least 18 years of age.

Although the bureaucratic and financial hurdles are steep to attain citizenship, Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra offered words of encouragement for the applicants.

For more information on the course, contact Villaronga at rgvillaronga@gmail.com or call 1-800-KILLEEN.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

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