Many immigrants working on citizenship due to political climate

On Thursday, businesses around the country shut down to demonstrate what a day would look like if undocumented immigrants didn't show up for work.
In Austin, hundreds gathered at City Hall for a march to the Capitol.
We met Miguel and Abigail Vasquez.  Abigail came here as a child from Mexico.  She's a citizen now.  She says it was a difficult process.

"It is, it's very expensive.  It takes a lot of years," Vasquez said.  "I know that fear that my mom had to go through every day at work I know what it feels like.  That's why I'm here because I was once illegal too.”

One of the Austin businesses that didn't open on Thursday: Rosita's Al Pastor.  They put a sign on the door saying "This business was founded by a woman who arrived to this country as an illegal immigrant."

On Friday when Al Pastor opened back up we sat down with Jacqueline Rodriguez and her mother who owns the restaurant.  We agreed to conceal her mom's identity for this interview.
Rodriguez says her mother moved to the U.S. in 1976 and obtained permanent residency status.  She's never felt the need for anything more.

"Now she feels...her residency is being threatened.  Now she's seeking citizenship but she always thought being a resident was enough," Rodriguez said.

According to immigration attorney Tony Diaz, that's happening a lot.

"I have had folks that have…been in the United States permanently as legal residents for 45, 50 years that did not become American citizens because they did not really feel the need.  Now folks are understanding there are threats that they may lose those green cards," Diaz said.

We briefed Diaz on Rodriguez's mother's situation and he seems to think she'll manage citizenship just fine.  There are certain waivers for the elderly.  But for others it can be expensive and time-consuming.

"The exam is an exam that I think probably most high school kids in Texas, at least statistically from what I'm hearing would fail.  Simple questions like 'Who is the President of the United States?'  'How many Senators are there in the United States?'  'How many Congresspersons are there in the United States?'" Diaz said.

Rodriguez says she's proud of her mom.

"For the past week, I've been crying and crying because she's my mom.  And the possibility to have her taken away that's why I closed yesterday.  In moral support of her," Rodriguez said.

For more information on becoming a citizen and working in the U.S., visit here. 

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