BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A three-day tour of the country ended Monday, in Kern County for the First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden. She helped celebrate Cesar Chavez Day a few days early and was a part of a special naturalization ceremony in Keene.
People from nine countries became American citizens on Monday with Dr. Jill Biden present. As the First Lady said during her speech it’s not the land or language that defines America, but the people.
For Claudia Marcela Campos it’s been 20 years. That’s how long she’s lived in Bakersfield. She’s been in America since she was 12. Her sister, who was 15 years older, raised her like her own child.
“My country was not safe, or at least the town I lived in was not safe, and my parents were too old to raise me so my sister decided to pick up and have me here instead."
- READ ALSO: Honoring the legacy of Cesar Chavez
Campos is now a housing specialist with the Kern Housing Authority, a wife, a mother, and a member of the United Farm Workers movement. And on Monday Campos became a U.S. citizen at Villa la Paz with the First Lady present.
“Who knows the possibility of a dream better than those who have traveled miles just to find it? I know how hard you have all worked to be here. How long many of you have waited,” said Biden during the ceremony.
Campos took the oath alongside 30 other people from India to Egypt to Mexico.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Jaddou sees the power in being a part of an agency that naturalized her own parents and helping that dream come true for others.
“To be able to call this country officially mine. To be able to contribute all the rights, all the responsibilities, all of it. The opportunity and the dreams that come with it. It’s just a special moment, and especially in a place like this."
It all happened steps away from the United Farm Workers movement headquarters, where Chavez lived and worked and days before Cesar Chavez Day. Campos became a part of the historic fabric of a national monument and made her sister proud.
“In the last months of her life, she told me: she was so proud of me for the person that I’ve become. From where I started and where I was at the moment. That I was a smart woman and was what she expected of me.”
As the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said their American dream is just beginning.
For the past 30 years, Kern County has been visited by several political figures including almost every sitting president Since the 1990s and two First Ladies, including Dr. Jill Biden.
President George H.W. Bush landed at Meadows Field Airport on July 14, 1992, and took a helicopter to the Sequoia National Forest to make a declaration protecting the area’s giant sequoia groves.
President Bill Clinton made a similar journey to Kern County on April 15, 2000, also boarding a helicopter to see the sequoias.
On March 4, 2004, George W. Bush, came to Bakersfield during a campaign stop.
On October 8, 2012, President Barack Obama landed at Meadows Field and drove by motorcade up Highway 58 to the National Headquarters of the United Farm Workers union in Keene.
Former First Lady Laura Bush visited Bakersfield to show her support for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County in February of 2018.
And President Donald Trump made a visit in February of 2020.
Finally, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visited Kern County just a year ago, also to honor Cesar Chavez Day at that time as well.