As part of 101.9 WDET’s Book Club, we’re inviting the Detroit region to examine and discuss the text that impacts every resident of the United States: The Constitution. Whether you’re revisiting the documents or reading them for the first time, join us in reading along and engaging in civil conversations with your community.
“I wanted something more, I wanted a different setting to create my life and to fulfill the dreams that I had.” —Carlos Herrera, new American originally from Venezuela
In honor of Citizenship Day and as part of our discussion of the United States Constitution, Stephen Henderson speaks with two Michiganders about their decision to migrate here, and the challenges and triumphs that followed.
Listen: Two new Americans in Southeast Michigan talk about what it means to be American.
Carlos Herrera is a new American citizen originally from Venezuela now living in Ann Arbor. He says he came to the U.S. for a better quality of life. “I wanted something more, I wanted a different setting to create my life and to fulfill the dreams that I had,” he says.
Herrera applied to become a citizen through a diversity visa, a process he says is commonly known as the “green card lottery” because so many people apply for a position with so few available spots. “The day when we took the oath, it was a very emotional day,” he says.
Herrera says the judge presiding over his citizenship was not asking new Americans to give up their religion or customs, but rather to bring their experiences to the country in order to enrich it and to offer a more comprehensive understanding of the world for everyone. “‘We are welcoming you into our family because if we look far enough … we are all immigrants at some point,’” Herrera says of the judge’s telling.
Jacqueline Arnold recently became an American after growing up in Windsor, Ontario and lives in Royal Oak. She says the day she took her oath was a calming experience in which she felt grateful. Ultimately, Arnold says she came to the United States because of her education and better job prospects. “I knew there were a lot of opportunities for positions in the states,” she says, adding, “I could achieve my goals and not have to sacrifice a lot.”
Arnold, who works in radiology, was encouraged to apply for citizenship by her boss, a new American himself who migrated from Syria. “He really set that ball in motion and made that a reality for me,” she says.