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25 February 2014

Juramento que trasciende tiempo y fronteras

Dicen que el amor todo lo puede. Don Jorge García y a doña Rafael Maradiaga de García son un ejemplo de todo lo que puede lograr una pareja cuando el amor rige sus vidas. Jorge, de 93 años de edad y Rafaela, de 92, han sabido enfrentar juntos la vida con valentía y perseverancia, lo que les ha llevado a vencer grandes obstáculos. Hoy, disfrutan de lo que según Rafaela es una nueva bendición: su ciudadanía estadounidense.

Natural de Puerto Cortés en Honduras, Rafaela Maradiaga emigró a Guatemala siendo aún niña. Fue en la capital guatemalteca que conoció a quien es hoy su esposo. “Fue un amor a primera vista. Desde ese 2 de febrero de 1946 no nos hemos separado”, comenta haciendo referencia al momento en que conoció a Jorge, quien es natural de Retalhuleu, Guatemala. “Bailamos y bailamos; bailando me dijo que sería su novia para toda la vida” añade.


Jorge y Rafaela tomando el Juramento de Lealtad

Desde jóvenes fueron muy responsables y trabajadores. Rafaela trabajaba en una fábrica para pagar la renta de la casa donde vivía con su madre de crianza; Jorge trabajaba en una tabacalera.

El deseo de estar siempre juntos les llevó hasta la iglesia de San Felipe de Jesús de La Antigua Guatemala, al pie del Volcán de Agua, donde Jorge se le declaró y juraron “amarse para toda la vida”.

Su relación no era bien vista por la madre de crianza de Rafaela, quien se había encargado de ella desde que quedó huérfana a los dieciséis años. “Si nos veía juntos, nos tiraba piedras y con sus termos, sobre todo a Jorge”, comenta Rafaela. Pero eso hizo fortalecer su amor.

“Nunca dejamos de disfrutar nuestra vida”, comenta Jorge. “Hubo momentos buenos y momentos difíciles, pero siempre fuimos agradecidos a la vida, y siempre sacamos una vez al año para disfrutar frente a la playa”.

Rafaela y Jorge tuvieron trece hijos pero sólo seis sobrevivieron. El último parto fue de gemelos, cuando Rafaela tenía 47 años.

Mantenerse unidos ha sido siempre el norte para esta pareja. La única vez que se han separado fue cuando Rafaela viajó por primera vez a Estados Unidos en el año 1989 para cuidar de su primer nieto, el primogénito de su hijo mayor Jorge Rafael y de Judith García, quienes habían emigrado hacía unos años. “Fueron tres meses de ausencia, tres meses de pena” recuerda don Jorge.

Él y Rafaela tuvieron la oportunidad de emigrar a Estados Unidos en 1989. “Jorge se perdió el día que llegó al aeropuerto y tuvimos que salir a buscarlo. No sé cómo se las arregló para conseguir un teléfono y llamar a la casa”, cuenta Rafaela destacando la perseverancia de su marido.

Adaptarse a una nueva vida en este país ha sido un reto. “Nunca pensé que podría hablar otro idioma, sobre todo a esta edad, y poco a poco he aprendido y he podido comunicarme adecuadamente”, señala don Jorge con gran satisfacción, destacando que emigró siendo ya mayor.

No obstante, ambos coinciden que su mayor satisfacción ha sido poder convertirse en ciudadanos estadounidenses, lo que lograron el pasado 12 de febrero de 2014 en una ceremonia de naturalización en Los Ángeles. “Estoy muy agradecido de este bendito país que nos ha recibido” comentó. Rafaela añade: “Es una alegría que va a perdurar para siempre. Es una bendición. Recibir esa bandera pequeñita es muy significativo. Es pequeña en tamaño, pero es inmenso el mérito que lleva. Lloré al recibirla”.

 
Don Jorge García muestra orgulloso su Certificado de Naturalización. A su lado doña Rafaela Maradiaga de García. Le acompañan sus familiares.

Jorge y Rafaela dicen que tomar este gran paso les ayudará a disfrutar de su vida a plenitud. “En esta etapa de nuestra vida seguimos juntos”, dice Jorge, “pero estamos más contentos porque logramos lo que más queríamos que era hacernos ciudadanos”. .

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An Oath to Each Other, and Now to a Country

It's been said that love overcomes everything. Jorge García and Rafaela Maradiaga-García are an example of all that a couple can overcome. Jorge, 93, and Rafaela, 92, have learned to face life together courageously. Today, both enjoy what Rafaela calls a new blessing: their U.S. citizenship.

Rafaela Maradiaga, a native of Puerto Cortés, Honduras, immigrated to Guatemala as a child. It was in that country’s capital where she fell for the young man who would become her husband. "It was love at first sight. Since Feb. 2, 1946, we've been together," says Rafaela. "That night we danced and danced ... and while dancing he told me that I will be his 'forever girlfriend.'"

Jorge, born in Retalhuleu, Guatemala, and Rafaela were very responsible and hard-working. She lived with a foster mother since becoming an orphan at age 16, and worked in a factory to pay their rent. Jorge worked in a tobacco factory.

Hoping to always be together, the couple went to San Felipe de Jesus Church at La Antigua Guatemala (Old Guatemala), at the bottom of the Volcán de Agua (Water Volcano). There, Jorge proposed, and they made an oath to "love each other ever after."

But Rafaela’s foster mom didn’t accept their relationship. "Anywhere she saw us together, she’d throw rocks at us, or even her thermos flask …particularly at Jorge!"

But that only made their love grow stronger.

 "We never quit enjoying life," says Jorge. "There were good and difficult times, but we always were thankful for what we had and for life itself, and we always made sure once a year to spend time on the beachfront."

Rafaela and Jorge had 13 children. Only six of them survived.

Being together has always been the main goal of this couple. The only time they were separated from each other was in 1989, when Rafaela went to the United States to take care of their first grandchild. "For me it was three months of emptiness and sorrow," Jorge recalls.

He and Rafaela had the opportunity to immigrate to the United States in 1989. "Jorge got lost when he got to the airport and we had to go out and search for him. I am not sure how he managed to phone home," says Rafaela.

  
Jorge and Rafaela taking the Oath of Allegiance. 

Adapting to their new life in this country was a challenge for them. "I've never dreamt of speaking another language, especially at my age, but I’ve learned (English) little by little and now I can communicate well," Jorge says proudly.


Jorge, surrounded by Rafaela and his family, proudly shows his Naturalization Certificate.

However, both say their greatest satisfaction in life has been to become U.S. citizens, which they achieved on Feb. 12, 2014. "I'm very grateful for this blessed country which has received us," Jorge says. Rafaela adds: "It's a joy that will endure forever. It’s a blessing. Receiving this tiny flag was very meaningful to me. It is small in size but it’s huge in the merit it carries. I cried when I received it!" 
 
Jorge and Rafaela say taking this big step in their lives will help them enjoy life to the fullest. "At this stage of our lives we are still together," Jorge says, "but we are happier because we achieved what we wanted the most: to become American citizens."

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12 February 2014

E-Verify on the Rise - 500,000 Employers Enrolled and Counting!

In 1996, Congress authorized the Basic Pilot program to give employers a means to help verify the employment eligibility of their workforce. When it launched one year later in just five states, less than 1,000 employers initially participated in the voluntary program. Today, Basic Pilot has evolved into E-Verify - a free online and easy-to-use service used by more than 500,000 employers at over 1.4 million hiring sites.

E-Verify's performance continues to improve. There are more than 1,500 new registrations every week and the number of employers enrolled has more than doubled since 2010. Presently, 98.81 percent of cases are confirmed as work authorized instantly or within 24 hours, up from 96.9 percent in 2008.

What have we done recently to make the program better for employers and workers? Let’s look at some of the enhancements we made to E-Verify in 2013:
  • January 2013: E-Verify introduced the new searchable employer database so you can easily find enrolled employers. Monthly E-Verify overview webinars in Spanish began. On February 27, 2014, we will offer our first Employee Rights webinar in Spanish.
  • June 2013: E-Verify announced an enhancement that allows E-Verify to send email notifications to employees when there is an information mismatch.
  • September 2013: E-Verify streamlined the Tentative Nonconfirmation process.
  • October 2013: E-Verify unveiled updated Web content with shortened URLs, streamlined navigational tools, and more.
  • November 2013: E-Verify announced an enhancement that helps identify and deter fraudulent use of Social Security numbers for employment eligibility verification. 
  • December 8, 2013: E-Verify released three revised Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) for E-Verify browser users and three new MOUs for Web Services users and developers.
Our focus remains on keeping E-Verify user-friendly and improving its accuracy. Haven’t you enrolled your business yet? Learn about the program’s benefits to prospective users in the new short E-Verify for Business Leaders video, and visit the enrollment Web page for resources to help you get started. Learn more about E-Verify’s advances over the years by reviewing the new interactive History and Milestones page on the updated E-Verify website.

Sign up to receive updates and our newsletter, E-Verify Connection.

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