SHANNON DRAYER

‘I’m an official American’: Félix Hernández talks about his new citizenship

Sep 24, 2018, 11:30 PM
Félix Hernández became an American citizen on Monday. (AP)...
Félix Hernández became an American citizen on Monday. (AP)
(AP)

Félix Hernández was approached by the public affairs officer of the Seattle office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who asked him if he would mind if they put out a media alert that he would naturalize along with around 80 other candidates Monday afternoon. The answer was no, not at all.

Mariners pitcher Félix Hernández becomes U.S. citizen

“They asked, I was like yes, because I want to enjoy this moment,” Félix said Monday as an American citizen.

The moment took place in a full room of candidates from 37 different countries. Félix took his assigned seat, the first seat in the front row, and waited for the moment he would take the oath. The hard part of the day was over. He was nervous heading into the facility that morning for his test; things didn’t go so well the first time he tried to pass it.

“The first time I failed, but I wasn’t prepared,” he said.

His wife Sandra fared better, which made for a quiet ride home that day.

“I was a little (ticked),” he said with a smile. “Then I didn’t talk to her in the car. But she was really happy too.”

The second time was a breeze. Candidates are given up to 10 questions from a pool of 100. They must get six right in order to pass. This time, Felix flew threw with flying colors, answering the first six correctly.

Félix was allowed to return that afternoon to recite the oath and finish the naturalization process. Fifteen years after first arriving in the US to start his professional career, Félix Hernández became an American citizen.

“I’m happy,” he said later in the clubhouse. “I’m an official American.”

The first thing that was on Félix’s mind when the certificate was put in his hands was his family. He and his wife had decided to become American citizens long before a crisis developed in his home country of Venezuela. Their children have been raised here and Félix has deep ties and relationships in the community. The current situation in Venezuela just reinforced the decision.

“It’s tough,” he said. “People don’t get any food in Venezuela. I have to do big shopping and send it to Venezuela to my mom so they can have some. But now, it makes it easier. I want to bring my mom, my dad, and they can stay with me. The situation in Venezuela is really bad. But it is crazy. I don’t think any players are going to Venezuela now.”

It is clear Félix is very happy in his new home. And his children?

“They are thrilled. ‘Are we throwing a party?’ Okay, wait ’til I get there. We’re throwing a party.”

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