Tucumcari resident becomes citizen

A desire for her voice to count and call Tucumcari and the U.S. home prompted a resident to take the steps to become a citizen.

QCS Photo: Thomas Garcia

Tracey Griego's office at the Tucumcari Senior Center shows off her proud heritage from the United Kingdom, though a closer look shows the U.S. Flag which she received when she became a citizen on Nov. 9 in Albuquerque.

Tracey Griego became a citizen of the U.S. when took the United States Oath of Allegiance on Nov. 9 at Albuquerque.

Griego said she was one and 171 people representing 41 countries that were sworn in as a citizen by U.S. District Judge James O. Browning.

"It feels like I belong now," Griego said. "It feels like home."

Griego a Scottish native of Rosyth said her Green Card, which she was granted in 2003, needed to be renewed in March 2013. She said after discussing it with her family she decided to apply for citizenship instead.

"I wanted to have a voice," Griego said. "I had very strong opinions about this last election, but was unable to vote."

Griego said she was tired of sitting on the sidelines. This was her home. Where she chose to raise her family and make a living. She said in May she began the process of studying for the oral and written exams and interviews.

"My family helped me out a lot," Griego said. "They would quiz me on questions and I listened to a CD with the questions and answers in my car."

Griego said in July she had to go to Lubbock where she was fingerprinted and had a background check conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She said in October she went to Albuquerque where the exams and interviews were conducted.

"The exams and interview for my Green Card seemed harder," Griego said. "I am happy I made the decision to become a U.S. Citizen. I'm happy and proud to call America home."

Griego said her journey to the states began when she met her husband Mike Griego while they were working in Saudi Arabia.

"In 1994, I was working as a contractor for the Saudi Arabian Air Force," said Mike Griego. He said he met Tracey on the Rolaco compound.

Tracey said she was working at the military hospital near the compound when she met Mike. She said they were married six months later.

The two moved back to Rosyth where their daughter Emily was born. Tracey said in 2003, the family decided to move to New Mexico. Her husband was born in Santa Rosa.

Tracey said you do not automatically become a citizen or get a Green Card when you marry an American citizen. She said there is an application process that must be completed and a renewal needed every 10 years.

"I am proud of her making the effort to become a citizen," Mike Griego said. "This solidified the family's unity."

Mike said they had concerns about the government changing their minds about Green Card laws, which may have complicated her renewal.

"It was a big decision for her to become a citizen," he said "Even though she wasn't giving up her British nationality it showed she had made the decision to make this her home."

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