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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Dreamer Julio Rayo achieves citizenship in post Trump world

Courtesy of Julio Rayo
Julio Rayo downtown Los Angeles outside of the Federal building on March 17, 2021. Julio took the oath to become a US Citizen.

If you aren’t a believer that dreams really do come true, just ask Julio Rayo, who is now one of the newest citizens of the United States of America.

On of March 17, 2021, after being in this country for 31 years undocumented, Julio stood before homeland security agents with his right hand up and the oath in his left, he renounced every other country, sovereignty, potentate or prince by reciting the oath of alliance to become a US citizen.

The former Mexican national said he no longer has to look over his shoulder. “The idea of ICE will now just be about frozen water,” he said.

Julio recalled the day that changed his life was sunny with a 40% chance of rain. “I worked that day and all I concentrated on was putting in enough hours in order to have the afternoon off.”

“I remembered it drizzled but then by the time we arrived downtown, it was sunny. Not even Mother nature would rain on my parade,” he said while gigging

Veronica And Julio Rayo on March 17, 2021 outside of the federal building where he became a citizen. They have been married since 2015. (Courtesy of Julio Rayo)

Accompanied by his wife, Veronica and niece Rebecca, Julio said his wife has been there with him every step of the way. The couple met in high school and married in 2015.

“She was just as much a part of this process as I was. I could not have done this without her.”

He teared up again thinking back to the very moment. “I embraced my wife and then we took a selfie,” he said.

“I was brought to this country in 1990 at the age of one. My parents migrated here in search of the American dream. It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. We did not have a home, we struggled financially and not speaking English was also a big part of the challenge we all faced,” he said.

“My family consisted of my father Vicente, mother Cristina De Los Rios and my sister Karina. After living here a while the Rayo’s family expanded with Miguel and Juan.”

Julio’s parents did not have a lot of options as migrant workers. They worked in sweatshops for long hours and very little pay.

“I can remember there were times when my sister and I had to join our parents at the sweatshops to help them out and we still did not have enough money,” he said.

Julio said it wasn’t until the Obama administration and the creation of DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that was enacted in 2012 that he began to see a pathway to citizenship might be possible.

DACA gave Julio the opportunity to get a work visa, driver’s license and a social security number. These items gave some protection from deportation.

Socially distanced and dawning a mask, Julio Rayo raises his right hand to take the oath. He became a citizen on March 17, 2021. (Courtesy of Julio Rayo)

The process to citizenship is detailed and quite costly. Rayo said he applied for residency and was granted conditional residency since he and his wife had only been married three years and did not have any children.

“There were applications, interviews, biometrics background photos and other nerve racking moments throughout the entire process. For the final interview you are required to answer ten civic related questions.”

“You only have to get six out of the 10 correct. Questions like, What do the stars on the flag mean, or what is the US capital. You are also required to read and write some of the same information,” Rayo said.

Julio was educated in the Los Angeles Unified School District. As a middle school student at Vermont Elementary School, Julio developed a love for soccer. Unfortunately, his family could not afford soccer cleats.

“I was teased by the other students and although it was hurtful, when I look back on it, this was the beginning of when I started to gain strength and determination,” he said.

In high school, Rayo dreamed of joining the military. His undocumented status would prevent that, however he did have an opportunity to participate in US Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Course.

In JROTC, Julio said it helped to shape the individual he is today. Someone who has deep-rooted values such as motivation, perseverance, confidence, loyalty and honesty. “These were some of the best times of my life,” Rayo said.

As a citizen, Julio has big ambitions he is already working towards. A recent graduate of East Los Angeles College, Rayo earned an Associate of Science Degree in Administration of Justice, in December 2020.

Julio was recently accepted into California State Universities Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Northridge, Los Angeles and Cal Poly Pomona.

“This fall I will begin working on a degree in Criminal Justice at Cal State LA. My Ultimate goal is to become a Law enforcement officer with either the Sheriff’s Department or LAPD,”he said. “With everything I have been through coupled with growing up in LA, I think I can help be the change or I can offer a different perspective.

“I really want to represent the people who don’t have a voice as well as help people in need. I believe you can use your words to bring peace, comfort and help, said the law enforcement hopeful.”

“I am not ashamed nor do I ever get tired of talking about my status. Although it’s not easy there is a legal way to get citizenship to this country and if talking helps someone else then I’m happy to tell my story,” Julio said.

Veronica said that it’s still sinking in and he is getting used to the idea of being a citizen. “I will be even more excited and happy for him once he receives his passport. We get to look forward from here.”


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About the Contributor
Jacqueline Cochran
Jacqueline Cochran, News Editor
Jacqueline Cochran is the News Editor for Talon Marks this semester.  She is returning to the Talon Marks family for a second time.  Last semester she completed all the requirements for an AA degree in Journalism.  She hopes to transfer to California State University Long Beach in the Fall to begin working on a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism.  She enjoys writing, watching movies, traveling and trying new things.  Last year she learned how to swim which was a long time goal. This year's new thing will be kayaking and skating.
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Dreamer Julio Rayo achieves citizenship in post Trump world