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87-year-old immigrant and first-time U.S. voter: 'I love this country very much'

Reginalda Rodriguez filled out her ballot with painstaking care, using her practice booklet as a guide -- no on Prop. 19, Jerry Brown for governor, and on through every measure and candidate.

It was the first time the 87-year-old great-grandmother of 11 had voted in the United States. She lived the first 65 years of her life in El Salvador. In 1989, she came to live with her son in Los Angeles to escape the civil war in her country. She worked as a nanny until the age of 83.

In May 2008, she finally became a U.S. citizen. When Rodriguez arrived at the Baldwin Hills Recreation Center polling place Tuesday afternoon, the workers were unable to find her name on the rolls.

Undiscouraged, she cast her provisional ballot. On the way out, she hugged the workers or shook their hands. "I feel very satisfied, because I have so much esteem for this country," Rodriguez said in Spanish. "I love this country very much."

There was no single proposition or race that drew her. Rodriguez said she simply wanted to vote in the country where she is now a citizen.

Rodriguez is the type of voter who immigrant rights group have been courting in a year when many Latinos were expected to stay home, disappointed by the failure of the Obama administration to push comprehensive immigration reform.

Since late August, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles has dispersed 253 volunteers throughout the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys and in pockets of Los Angeles to woo immigrant and first-time voters.

CHIRLA spokesman Jorge-Mario Cabrera said the election team spoke to nearly 7,000 households while canvassing the city and even more on the phone. Volunteers hit the streets again early Tuesday and remained out all day in a last-ditch effort push as many registered voters as possible to the polls.

--Abby Sewell

 
Comments () | Archives (20)

We don't need her kind, trying to restrict the plants we can grow, in California.
She should have been rejected by immigration for failing to understand liberty.

Where is the puppy? There is always a puppy in these fluff stories.

Hats off to Reginalda for living the dream, going through the steps required to become a citizen and getting to vote in her new country! We need more people like her,hard working and honor bound. I wish her many more votes!

Ms. Rodriguez is an excellent example of citizenship, perseverance and commitment to civic duty. Thanks to LA Times and the community organizations that are reaching out. More stories like this one are needed to show that America is not just a place for bullies.

Anyone think it took her a very very extremely long time to actually get her citizenship? I have friends who moved here when they were 7 and were citizens (along with their family) before they started Middle School. As a matter of fact by my math she never worked a day as a citizen of this country.

Good job Reginalda. Anyone that takes the time to go out and vote and make a choice has my respect.
@ Major Variola, Maybe you need a lesson in what Liberty is. Liberty is making your own choice. Not to be influenced by some greater power. Major (RET) from where N Korea?

"I feel very satisfied, because I have so much esteem for this country," Rodriguez said in Spanish. "I love this country very much."

But not enough to attempt to learn english in those 21 years she's been here....

Nice story, when do you think the Times will print the results of this poll?
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2010/1029/Immigrants-gaining-jobs-native-born-Americans-aren-t

what a wonderfull story! after 20 odd years in this country, she can't speak english, but gets to VOTE in spanish!

I think that Reginalda Rodriguez decided her vote on Prop 19 based on her experience. As she mentioned, she had escaped from the civil war in El Salvador. She may see and know how the drug badly affect the society.

As we read news from Mexico, when people can access the pot, the criminal activities will jump, and hospital will be filled with addicted citizens. If someone wants to legalize the pot, he or she has to pay the patient hospital fee, no the government. I agree with Reginalda on the Prop 19.

Voting is largely a meaningless gesture. This country was bought, sold, and paid for a long time ago. Running feel-good pieces such as this one risks triggering the gag reflex in people who can see through the Times' platitudes.

"unable to find her name on the rolls"

That just about says it all, doesn't it.

"I feel very satisfied, because I have so much esteem for this country," Rodriguez said in Spanish. "I love this country very much."

But not enough to attempt to learn English in those 21 years she's been here....

Posted by: M.H. Watson | November 02, 2010 at 08:24 PM
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXACTLY what I was going to say!!

"I feel very satisfied, because I have so much esteem for this country," Rodriguez said in Spanish. "I love this country very much."

But not enough to attempt to learn english in those 21 years she's been here....

Posted by: M.H. Watson | November 02, 2010 at 08:24 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXACTLY what I was thinking!

Why is she not speaking English? What a joke.

Funny how those of you complaining that this man hasn't learned English don't speak a second language yourselves. Be the exemplary Americans you expect Latinos to become.

Major Wood and M.H. Watson, aka The Jerk Twins: why don't you try learning a new language at age 65? I don't think you could do it if for no other reason than that your minds are so completely closed. And last time I looked, there is no law (and has never been a law in even the most conservative periods in our history) in which English was made the official language, so who are you to assume she has the obligation to learn English? Why don't you try learning Spanish instead? That way you could attempt to communicate with a wonderful hard-working people like her, who seems to have more decency in her right pinkie than the two of you, combined, will ever muster in your entire useless beer-swilling bodies.

Has this gal ever paid any fed/state taxes...Very unlikely...yeah, she shouldn't be voting either...
I bet she's getting social security...that she never paid into...
I hate fluff stories...because they really just stupid stories...

There are many stories like that from every community. Why does this story needs to be told. What is the point? Why should there be a Hispanic ballot? Why not Chinese, Indians, etc etc..

Shows you where this country is going doesn't it?

We have to look further for truth than the press.

This is an amazing story. I'm glad she got to vote. And she voted right :) in my opinion.


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