On Tuesday, while people across the country were casting their ballots in the midterm elections, Maria Valles de Bonilla’s dream finally came true. At 106, she headed to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Fairfax, Virginia and took the oath to become a citizen.
Valles is originally from El Salvador and became a permanent resident about six years ago, after one of her children sponsored her. She has six children living here, most of whom are citizens, and she had three generations of her family by her side as the dream she’s had for years became a reality. In her citizenship interview, Valles explained that her husband also dreamed of becoming a citizen, but died before he had the chance, so she’s doing it for both of them.
Even though she’s a citizen now, Valles wasn’t eligible to vote in Tuesday’s election, since Virginia’s voter registration deadline was in mid-October. But the fact her ceremony was on election day was especially meaningful for her and she hopes to get the chance to vote in the future. "I would like to one day," Valles says, "if I can."