It’s a story that proves immigration isn’t always a divisive issue — even in the deepest of deep-red states.
Yanet Lopez is the cafeteria manager at Deer Creek Prairie Vale Elementary School in Edmond, Oklahoma. According to CNNWire, she’s an immigrant from Cuba who moved to Edmond from Houston for better employment opportunities.
“When I was a child, I have a dream, like, say, Martin Luther King, right?” Lopez told KOCO-TV. “My dream was [to] come here to this great country.”
Not only did she come, but she’s also been a mainstay at Deer Creek Prairie Vale. And, this past week, she passed her citizenship test.
This is the reception she got from the students and staff at the school:
WALK OF HONOR: Staff and students line the hallways of an Oklahoma public school to celebrate their cafeteria manager after she passed her U.S. citizenship test. pic.twitter.com/720zPfDVlJ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 8, 2021
The students chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” as she walked down the hallway, one step closer to being a U.S. citizen.
“All the students give me hugs,” she said. “It was exciting. … I was crying like a baby, and the teachers were crying.”
“Every morning Ms. Yanet walks into the office and proclaims ‘Good Morning, Pretty Ladies’ and with a smile and a laugh she always starts the day with a positive message!” the school posted on its Facebook page.
“I am so excited for Ms. Yanet and the realization of one of her dreams in passing her citizenship test! We laughed that she would know more than those of us born in the U.S.A. I am honored to work with one [of the] best US citizens I know!” the post continued.
And she wasn’t alone in passing the test on Monday.
No, her husband passed it with her. And her three children, ages 17 to 28. And while the tougher test required under the Trump administration was scrapped in February, according to The Hill, it sounds like Lopez would have passed either way.
“I know everything about the United States: Constitution, presidents. Everything, it’s amazing,” Lopez said.
“I love this country.”
And, indeed, there wasn’t a negative reaction to be found on Twitter — except for comments like these:
Anti-immigrant Republicans will never receive such an ovation because goodness still triumphs.
— citizenxoxo (@citizen_xoxo) April 8, 2021
Right. But most responses were more like this, responding to the heartwarming element:
I’m standing and clapping with tears in my eyes. What a beautiful lesson about kindness, compassion and humanity. Those kids are learning what is the right thing to do. We all are immigrants in these United States of America – the greatest country in the world.
— Carlos Ramirez (@mocarlosr) April 8, 2021
The US is not a xenophobic country — not by a long shot — and regardless of what some people say.
The latter are in a very small — but often vocal — minority.
The US is still a generous country where a lot is based on merit — and not class, gender, color, whatever.
— Shane Forbes — philistine, inebriated market (@shaneforbes) April 8, 2021
And that’s the lesson here, aside from the heartwarming story of Yanet Lopez, who seems pretty awesome.
According to The Hill, 843,593 individuals were naturalized as U.S. citizens last year. That’s a number that never really makes headlines. If it were higher, I don’t know if there would be much cause for concern, either, as long as this was all done legally through the proper channels.
But that’s the keyword: legally. Please let’s not pretend there’s any serious debate about immigration. There isn’t.
There’s a debate over illegal immigration and specious asylum claims, which is why the southern border remains a political hot potato. That’s not about xenophobia, though, it’s about the law and it’s about doing things the right way.
If you don’t believe that, the video doesn’t lie. In a state where Donald Trump won over 65 percent of the vote in 2020 and not a single county went for Joe Biden, immigration is celebrated like this.
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