PIQUA — With immigration being a hot topic in the presidential debates, Sonia Haines of Piqua, originally from Honduras, could not have visited Sue Hahn’s government class at the Upper Valley Career Center at a better time to share her journey to becoming a legalized citizen of the United States.
Because any person born in the U.S. is a legal citizen by law, most of Hahn’s students never had to go through the application process, fingerprinting, study for the naturalization test, and two weeks later, take the test. That is what Haines had to do.
“(The test) wasn’t hard for me because I studied,” Haines told the class. “There were some things I already knew.” Haines said in her elementary social studies class in Honduras, she learned about other countries including the U.S. The easiest question on the test she said was what the 50 stars represented on the American flag.
Haines scored a 100 percent on her test.
“There are not many people that get all the questions right,” Haines said, as she was told by a moderator during tests. She was also complimented on her writing skills by that same moderator.
As for what brought Haines to the U.S., it was her sweetheart, Kevin Haines.
Kevin, a member of the Upper Valley Community Church, met Sonia in Honduras during a mission trip and the two fell in love. Sonia wanted a life with Kevin in the U.S., and thus, came to the U.S. in 1994 on the fiancé visa and eventually obtained her green card. When her green card was close to expiring, Sonia obtained her U.S. citizenship in 2006.
Sonia has worked hard to earn her way.
“English, for me, has been a learning experience,” she said. “I’m sorry, I can’t get rid of my accent. It’s like if you learn Spanish, you will have an accent.”
Haines went to college in Honduras and obtained a degree in accounting and also took classes in journalism to work for radio one day. Today, she is an assistant for the Adult Basic Literary Education (ABLE) program at UVCC, helping adults to obtain their GED and also does cleaning on the side.
Since 2011, Haines has been attending Hahn’s class, sharing her journey to citizenship and also her culture. She brought in some items such as Honduran stamps and coins to share with the class.
“I am always grateful when Sue invites me to her class,” she said.
Hahn said her students have learned about immigration in her class and have taken the naturalization test for the experience.
“I wanted them to have a feel of what she went through,” Hahn said. “The kids hate the fact that the government wants (immigrants) to become citizens without doing anything.”
Haines agrees that immigrants should “do it the right way” and go through the process to obtain citizenship.
“I’m sorry, I don’t agree (with crossing border illegally),” she said.
Haines went on to explain that her grandmother crossed the Honduran border to flee from the El Salvador and Nicaragua war, leaving her family. She said her grandfather declared her as a dishonor to her family.
Reach reporter Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.