ALAMO, December 23 - One of the top workers for La Unión del Pueblo Entero has been featured in a national AP story about healthcare for undocumented immigrants.
Sonia Limas, of Alamo, Texas, is the focal point of a story on the difficulties immigrants have in getting healthcare. Written by reporters Christopher Sherman and Ramit Plushnick-Masti, it is titled “Fewer Health Care Options for Illegal Immigrants.”
The story talks about a possible unintended consequence of Obamacare – less funding for the community clinics that undocumented immigrants rely upon. Accompanying the story is a photo slideshow by AP photographer Eric Gay showing Limas and her family in her trailer home in Alamo.
Click here to read the story and view the slideshow in Yahoo News.
Limas, aged 44, moved from Reynosa to Alamo 13 years ago with her husband and three daughters. Now single, she supports the family by teaching a citizenship class at LUPE’s headquarters in San Juan. She also sells cookies and cakes she whips up in her trailer.
Limas won an award from LUPE a few years back for bringing the most people to the group’s annual Cesar Chavez March. The Guardian featured Limas and the citizenship class she teaches in a story in November, 2010.
We have reprinted the story below.
Limas gives thanks through teaching civics
By Steve Taylor
SAN JUAN, Nov. 26, 2010 - As subjects, Alamo resident Sonia Limas does not particularly like U.S. civics, history or geography. She much prefers cooking for her family and friends.
However, in order to give back to the community group that has helped her so much since her arrival in the United States, Limas is pleased to teach these subjects as part of the citizenship classes she holds every week for members of La Unión del Pueblo Entero that want to become naturalized Americans.
“It is true. I do not much care for civics or history. But, I love teaching, I love my students and I want to help them become U.S. citizens,” Limas, speaking in Spanish, told the Guardian at the end of this week’s class at LUPE’s headquarters in San Juan.
Limas came to the U.S. 11 years ago from Reynosa, where she was a cook. Her grasp of English has non-existent when she arrived but has improved considerably over the years thanks largely to her eldest two children, Gloriely and Dalia, who picked up the language fairly quickly at school.
In order to become U.S. citizens, LUPE members have to study 100 U.S. civics questions in a book provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. When they go for their official naturalization test they have to answer at least six out of ten of those questions correctly.
These are some of the questions: Name two national U.S. holidays? Why does the U.S. flag have 13 stripes? When must all men register for Selective Service? Why did the colonists fight the British? In what month doe we vote for President? What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
Limas has been teaching citizenship classes at LUPE for the past three years. She starts each class by asking her students to recite the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. She then goes over all the questions with her students in Spanish. She said that at first most of the students are overawed. Many of them are elderly.
“At first, they say, ‘I can’t. I can’t.’ They have a lot of difficulty in the beginning. They simply do not think they can make it. But they can. I have to encourage them” Limas said. The students usually take two months to complete the citizenship course.
Over the course of a year, LUPE will help about 75 students become naturalized citizens. The group holds graduation ceremonies three or four times a year and presents certificates to the students. Sometimes, Limas bakes a cake for the occasion.
Salomon Torres, Rio Grande Valley district director for U.S. Rep. U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, usually officiates at the ceremonies and presents the graduating students with a letter of congratulation from the Congressman.
“The graduation ceremonies are inspiring. These students have learned U.S. civics better than most Americans. They are so proud to become Americans. They have sacrificed a lot to be here and make a new life,” Torres told the Guardian.
The Guardian asked Limas why, if civics and government are not her favorite subjects, she teaches citizenship classes. She said it is her way of giving back to a community that has helped her.
“Being part of LUPE has given me so much confidence. I have learned that I can do things I never thought I could. I was like my students once. I did not think I could learn. But I have,” Limas said.
LUPE was founded in 1989 by labor rights activist César Chávez. Its mission statement is to build stronger, healthier communities “where colonia residents use their power to effect social change through community organizing and social services.”
Limas enjoys volunteering for LUPE events when family commitments allow. Earlier this year she won a prize for bringing the most family members and friends to the group’s annual César Chávez Birthday March.
“I teach citizenship classes with gladness. I always look for new ways of teaching, of giving the students the confidence they need. I like teaching and I love my students,” Limas said.