Two Puente staffers become U.S. citizens

Puente staff members, Rita Mancera and Veronica Ortega
Puente staff members, Rita Mancera and Veronica Ortega
Puente Program Director Rita Mancera and Veronica Ortega, Puente’s Office Manager, became newly-minted U.S. citizens at swearing-in ceremony on April 9. Both women have been permanent residents for decades, but decided to take the plunge after Puente expanded its immigration services in 2011, thanks to a Grant from the Grove Foundation.

Ortega, 33, has lived in Pescadero for more than 30 years as a permanent resident. Becoming a citizen seemed like an afterthought. Her mother and sisters were already citizens, as are her children. But Ortega decided to apply after realizing that it could facilitate her trips back to Mexico.

“I was thinking that if I want to go to Mexico and spend more time there, I hear that it’s easier to go and stay for more months this way,” says Ortega, who was so nervous about passing the citizenship test that she kept it a secret from her family. Her mother will fly in from Mexico for the citizenship ceremony. “I’m so excited!” Ortega says.

Applying for citizenship can be hugely daunting, not to mention expensive. Mancera said it cost her $680 and involved piles of paperwork. (Puente can help low-income clients get a discount, but Mancera didn’t qualify). The wife of a U.S. citizen, Mancera moved to the U.S. in 2005 from Baja and became a permanent resident around the same time she began work for Puente. She began helping Puente clients through the citizenship process, helping them prepare for the citizenship test.

Finally, she decided it was time to join them.

“I felt I wanted to have the security to stay here – in case anything political came up, I didn’t want to be divided from my family,” says Mancera. “Also with the presidential election coming in November, I really wanted to vote.”

Both women recited the Oath of Citizenship in at a ceremony Oakland this week alongside Zeferino Presiado, a Puente program participant featured in our last issue. Congratulations to all three!

To learn more about Puente’s immigration services, contact Director Rita Mancera at (650) 879-1691 Ext 102, or