Local immigrant chases the American dream, becomes U.S. citizen

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NORTH PLATTE, Neb.-- For Eduardo de Alva, the American dream is one spent outdoors.

In Mexico, Eduardo says, there are not many places to go fishing; but, now in North Platte, he goes fishing whenever he can.

"There are a of fish in ... the [irrigation] canal," Eduardo said. "I catch the fish and my friends eat the fish."

In his fishing spot just off Halligan Drive, Eduardo can now go fishing for many years to come.

After 20 years in the United States on a work visa, he is now an American citizen.

Eduardo passed the citizenship exam in Omaha in January, a moment that he says almost brought tears to his eyes.

"I called my brother when I passed the test," Eduardo said. "I feel good!"

He came to the U.S. in 1996, working in a restaurant and hoping for more opportunities.

"In Mexico, there's not too much work," Eduardo explained. "Work one day here, and in Mexico, it's like one week [in terms of pay]."

When he's not fishing, Eduardo is working to send money to family in Mexico.

"My nephew was sick last year, and I sent money to my sister to help him," Eduardo said.

Becoming an American citizen is not easy. Eduardo completed a 20-page application and studied 100 questions for a U.S. civics exam.

He also spent six months in preparation for the exam in a citizenship class coordinated by Gus Lieske.

Eduardo is the first person from the class to become a U.S. citizen. Five other immigrants are currently in the process of submitting paperwork and studying for the exam.

Eduardo says that his next goal is to help with the paperwork to get his parents to the United States; but for now, he is just going to take a moment to enjoy the time time he spends fishing.

For more information on citizenship, GED, or English classes in North Platte, call Lieske at 402-304-4658. A new round of courses will begin in August and September. Classes are free, materials are provided, and schedules are determined by the students' avaliablity. Childcare can also be arranged, if needed.