Jorge Quero, a popular track coach at Foothill High School, received a warm “welcome home” from the Pleasanton community when he was sworn in as a full-fledged U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony on campus Thursday, nearly 16 years since Quero and his wife first arrived from Mexico.
“It feels kind of the same but officially now,” Quero said with a laugh about being a newly minted citizen after the ceremony. For the past 11 years he has led track at Foothill, where many students said they look up to the team’s head coach as a firm but fair and encouraging role model.
During the event, Foothill principal Sebastian Bull read a letter written by one of Quero’s former students, who said, “Anyone who’s been coached by Jorge knows how much of his heart and soul that he pours into his work.”
Dozens of Foothill staff, American Legion Post 237 members, and past and present students of Quero waved miniature American flags during the half-hour ceremony that started with three Foothill choir members singing the national anthem and later marked the end of a tedious legal process which took nearly a year to complete.
Standing on the stage inside the multipurpose room, wearing a dark suit and tie, Quero recited the Oath of Allegiance in front of his family and the crowd, which erupted in a roar of cheers and applause when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office director James Wyrough declared that Quero was officially “now a citizen of the United States of America.”
Naturalization ceremonies usually confirm multiple people as new citizens at the same time but Quero had the uncommon opportunity for his own personal swearing-in. Pleasanton Unified School District spokesman Patrick Gannon told the Weekly, “It was actually our luck that we were able to have his own ceremony. (USCIS) usually do a group of people together, but as it turned out, he was the only one to be naturalized at the time.”
USCIS contacted the district during summer about Foothill as a potential ceremony location, and PUSD happily obliged.
“We were proud to host here in honor of Jorge and to allow our students to participate,” Gannon said. “It meant a lot for our community and to Jorge for them to be part of it.”
Quero and his U.S.-born wife were married about 30 years ago in Mexico, where they lived until 2003, when they came to the States. “I will say it was long -- not hard, it was long,” Quero said about applying for citizenship last year.
Now that he’s achieved that important milestone, Quero said he looks forward to exercising his new civic rights and responsibilities as an American. “I have the right to vote and I will have to have my jury duty,” he said.