Refugee Client Passes Her Citizenship Test at 90 Years Old
It’s not every day that a 90-year old refugee earns their U.S. citizenship, but for Hedat Tedla Melashu, it was an accomplishment worth fighting for.
Hedat first arrived in the U.S. on June 30th, 1996. She was 73 years old at the time and her daughter, already living in the U.S., had petitioned for her immigration. Once she arrived, she began taking civics classes but was severely hindered by her lack of English skills. She attempted to take the citizenship test but because she couldn’t speak English, she was unsuccessful.
At the age of 89, Hedat began taking civics classes offered by the IRC, which were taught in Tigrinya for clients of Ethiopian or Eritrean descent. These classes are generally offered to all permanent residents in possession of a green card. During one of the classes a facilitator mentioned that because she had held a green card for more than 15 years and was over the age of 55, she was eligible to take the citizenship test in her native language.
With the help of a translator, she was finally able to pass the test. Hedat Tedla Melashu is the oldest IRC client to obtain her citizenship. She will be officially sworn in during a formal ceremony on March 5th, 2013.
For more information on civics classes at the IRC, please contact Amir.Music@rescue.org.