Marakira came to the United States in January 1990 from Guatemala to escape the threats of violence that she and her family were experiencing. As a single mother of three children, Marakira wanted to provide a better life for her family. She has now been in the U.S. for the last 31 years, spending most of that time working as a nanny to fulfill her goals of taking care of her family. She was able to do this with the work permit that she was first given through her asylum case and then her subsequent green card. After having her green card for many years and helping her children with their own immigration cases and college tuition, she never had the financial means to apply for her citizenship. She had no idea there were organizations like Just Neighbors that help people like her.
The process of becoming a naturalized citizen took about a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the staff of Just Neighbors and her lawyer, Eva Carney treated Marakira with lots of kindness, patience, and respect. Despite all of the challenges of the pandemic, Marakira became a citizen of the U.S.
Now that she has her citizenship, Marakira’s plan is to continue to work in order to help her youngest daughter attend college and her older daughter get her masters of social work- both at VCU! She also plans to continue to be an active member of her community and take advantage of her right to vote. Marakira feels more secure now knowing that she can retire in the future and receive benefits from being a citizen.