MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
Two Yuma Marines were naturalized before a Major League Baseball spring training game at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Ariz., March 10, 2010.
Cpl. Jorge Martinez, Marine Attack Squadron 214 airframer, and Cpl. Marvin Medeiros, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron food service specialist, both became full citizens of the country they’ve been serving for more than two years.
“This was something I wanted to do to see if I could do it,” said Martinez, whose family emigrated from Mexico when he was 5 months old.
Martinez’s family then moved to Redlands, Calif., where he spent his life until his enlistment in the Corps in 2007.
“I wanted to join when I was 18, but my parents wouldn’t let me,” said Martinez. “Then when I turned 22, I left everything I had and joined. I quit my job, broke-up with my girlfriend and went to the Marine recruiter.”
It was a different story for Medeiros, whose father had moved to the U.S. from Lima, Peru, when Medeiros was 3 years old.
Medeiros continued to live with his mother in Peru until he was 16 years old.
He then moved to the U.S. to live with his father in Gwinnett, Ga., until he enlisted in the Corps in 2008.
“I wanted to do something different, something I could only do in America,” said Medeiros.
Since people with permanent resident cards must be a legal adult for at least five years before applying for citizenship status, Medeiros had to wait until this year to apply. The approval, however, only took one and a half months.
“It was really quick,” said Medeiros.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service expedites citizenship for service members.
“It normally takes people eight months to a year to get citizenship status,” said Juan Moran, CIS community relations officer. “We’ve been pushing military members through because we believe if you serve our country you deserve a little reward.”
After becoming citizens in a ceremony at the baseball field, both Medeiros and Martinez felt changed.
“I felt different. I feel like I belong,” said Medeiros.
“This is a good feeling,” said Martinez. “Now every time I go through a border control checkpoint I can just flash my ID and get through without being checked.”
Seven Marines from Yuma have earned citizenship status this year, while 18 received theirs in 2009.