MAGIC VALLEY — 46 Idahoans completed the years-long process of becoming U.S. citizens and took the oath of allegiance at the courthouse in Boise Thursday.
“I have no words to explain really, but this is my home and I do love this country and I want to vote and do anything I can, do my part to make this a better country," Jessica Maynard, a Hailey resident, said.
For Jessica, the journey to becoming a citizen started in 2006, when she originally arrived in the U.S. to complete an 18-month long internship, but then her plans changed.
“But during that time I met my husband and we got married and we started a life here," Maynard said.
Jessica became a permanent resident in 2008 after getting married. Although she didn't have all the rights a U.S. citizen has, she was still able to go back home and visit her family in Peru, but she felt something was always missing.
“It was always weird when traveling to visit my family or anywhere abroad and coming back to the states, my family has U.S. passports and I have a Peruvian passport so I felt out of place," Maynard said.
Not only did she feel out of place, but she had to renew her permanent residency every 10 years and pay a $500 fee. She decided to start the paperwork to become a citizen last August.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services involves being a lawful permanent resident for at least five years or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen. The Idahoans took their oath of allegiance the same day the U.S. House of Representatives passed two immigration bills.
The Farm Workforce Modernization act is one of those immigration bills passed. The act, which was reintroduced by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, will give undocumented farmworkers a green card if they pay a penalty and continue to work in the Agriculture industry for at least four to eight years.
The house also passed The American Dream Act and Promise which will give legal status to DACA recipients and those with temporary protective status. Jessica says becoming a U.S. citizen was important to her, especially to have the right to vote.
“I don’t know sometimes a vote can make a difference. I would like to have that opportunity and that right and responsibility," Maynard said.
Jessica became a U.S. citizen alongside 45 other Idahoans, including Frinne Heiderscheit, a Nampa Resident, who completed the process on her birthday.
“Oh my god, can you imagine it's just wonderful, what a better gift right? I'm just really happy. I guess it's going to be a double celebration today," Heiderscheit said.