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By Andi Bourne

Seeley Lake Resident Becomes US Citizen


Photo provided.

Ailed Caro-Arteaga received her U.S. citizenship, Jan. 21 at a ceremony in Helena, Mont.

SEELEY LAKE - When Ailed Caro-Arteaga first came to the United States (US) in 2005 on a six-month tourist visa, her goals were simple: Practice English and return to Mexico to go to college. After meeting her future husband Luis Caro in Missoula, Mont. her plans changed. She moved to Montana, married Caro and has helped him run his drywall business, Caro Drywall, in Seeley Lake. Last Thursday, Jan. 21, Caro-Arteaga gained her US citizenship at a naturalization ceremony in Helena, Mont.

Caro-Arteaga lived in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She came to Missoula to work for family friends who owned Fiesta En Jalisco in Missoula. Caro was managing Fiesta En Jalisco when Caro-Arteaga started working. They became friends and then started dating.

Caro was also from Jalisco, Mexico and lived only two hours from Caro-Arteaga. He first came to the US in 1997 on a work visa. He applied for his residency in 2000 and got his green card in 2001. He was not a citizen when they met.

Caro-Arteaga returned to Mexico for three months in January 2006 but did not start school.

"In my heart I knew I would come back so I didn't start anything," said Caro-Arteaga. She returned to Montana to be with Caro and then moved to Seeley Lake in May 2006. Caro worked for John Ruyle with Sunburst Drywall. They were married Nov. 16, 2007.

"I could have applied for my citizenship in five years [2006] but I didn't because at that point there was no need for it," said Caro. "Until we got married then we saw the necessity of it."

It took Caro six months to get his citizenship which he received March 13, 2008. Caro-Arteaga was then able to apply for her residency. She got her green card in 2009.

Since Caro was a citizen and they were married, Caro-Arteaga only had to wait three years, instead of five, to apply for her citizenship. She, however, did not apply until the summer of 2015.

The application process consisted of filling out an application which shows criminal record, taxes paid and other background information. If someone qualifies based on their application, then they must pass a history, writing and reading test. The tests were all given verbally. Caro said that they also like it if someone can show proof of employment.

Caro-Arteaga completed the process in less than five months. Both she and Caro passed their tests on the first try.

While Caro-Arteaga was eligible for her citizenship in December 2015, she chose to wait until the Jan. 21 oath ceremony, after they returned from visiting family in Mexico over Christmas.

Caro-Arteaga joined 27 other immigrants from 22 different countries for the naturalization ceremony in Helena. She was one of two from Mexico that became US citizens that day. They said the Pledge of Allegiance, sang the Star Spangled Banner and representatives from Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines and US Representative Ryan Zinke's offices read letters welcoming her as a citizen to the country. She also received a letter from President Obama congratulating her on becoming a citizen and welcoming her to the American family. Seeley Lake residents Judy Peasley, Kris and Erik Gullikson and Teresa and Bruce Friede attended the ceremony to show their support.

"After all the process we have been going through it is finally done," said Caro. "It feels good to be part of the country now."

Caro-Arteaga knew that she was unable to vote as a permanent resident but she was surprised at the other privileges that she was denied until becoming a citizen. For example she was denied health insurance after becoming pregnant because she was not a citizen.

"It's funny that you pay taxes and do everything that you are supposed to do but on those cases you don't get anything because of [not being a citizen]," said Caro-Arteaga. "It was surprising to me. I have international health insurance but the baby was not covered."

Caro-Arteaga already has her voters registration card filled out and ready to mail on Monday.

"That was really important to me to be a part of the next elections," said Caro-Arteaga. "That makes me really happy just to be a part of that."

Caro-Arteaga continued, "When you start the process it is like the same thing. But that day of the ceremony you feel like completely equal as everyone else now."

Photo provided.

Ailed Caro-Arteaga following the naturalization ceremony with her husband Luis Caro and friends Kris Gullikson and Judy Peasley.

Caro added, "I feel like we are very accomplished now. When you look at all the immigrants that come to the United States, this is what everyone wishes for. And look at us. We finally did it. Not everyone is as lucky as us. It seems like an easy process but it is not. It takes time and money. Once it is all done it is definitely worth it."

The Caros are the first in both of their families to become US Citizens. They said their families, although they miss them, are very proud of their accomplishments.

They intend to raise their family in Seeley Lake, continue operating Caro Drywall and look forward to being more involved in the community. Ever since moving to Seeley Lake, they have felt welcomed and said everyone is very nice to them.

"We feel we are a good addition to the community," said Caro-Arteaga. "We really like Seeley Lake and love to be here."


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