The Mariners pitcher becomes a citizen one month after his wife, because she passed the test on her first try and he did not.
Felix Hernandez routinely performs his craft in front of tens of thousands of people, but that doesn’t make the Seattle Mariners starting pitcher nervous.
But passing the tests, including one in civics, to become an American citizen? Now that is a different story.
One with a happy ending.
Because at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Seattle on Monday afternoon, Hernandez was one of 75 individuals from 34 countries to become American citizens.
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Hernandez, the first of 75 people to be announced, drew the loudest cheers as there had been whispers throughout the auditorium that pitching royalty was among the group of new Americans.
“It means a lot,” Hernandez said. “Now, I am proud to be an American. Just happy, and so proud to be an American.”
But there were anxious moments Monday for Hernandez.
“I was nervous. I was nervous,” he said. “The first test I would have passed — but I didn’t study at all. I was prepared for this one, but I was still nervous, and now I am happy to be an American.”
Hernandez’s wife, Sandra, became an American citizen a month ago. She passed the test on her first try.
“I was a little pissed,” Hernandez said of her passing and him not. “I think I only got one right.”
No such problems this time.
Hernandez is from Venezuela, which is under political and economic strife, and he said becoming an American citizen was something he has thought about for long time.
“We live here, so why not?” said Hernandez, who said he had a green card for the past five years. “This country has given me everything. Just to be loyal to the United States.”
Next month, Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz is hoping to complete the process of becoming an American citizen. He will then understand the joy Hernandez is feeling.
“I love Seattle, and being an American here is amazing,” Hernandez said.