On Sept. 20, 2019, English-born couple Trevor and Lesley Stockdale celebrated 12 years of marriage by finally becoming naturalized citizens of the United States of America.
A total of 185 grateful individuals gained U.S. citizenship at the Las Cruces convention center. Each person was given 100 questions to study and were asked 10. To pass, at least six out of 10 must be answered correctly.
“We passed!” Lesley happily exclaimed.
The ceremony began with Linda Goff leading the crowd singing, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory J. Fouratt presided and the Las Cruces Police Department acted as Honor Guard. Eighteen different countries including Iran, China, Thailand, Mexico and England were announced one by one where people stood and shouted triumphantly.
Fouratt relayed the Oath of Allegiance, and everyone sang, “America the Beautiful,” led by Goff.
The Stockdales are excited to finally be citizens of the United States, though it’s been a long journey. In 1999, Trevor first went to the United States to attend his sister Jean’s wedding in California. Jean met her American husband while working as a nanny on a U.S. airbase in Germany.
That same year, Jean had offered to sponsor Trevor, and the paperwork began.
“(I) loved the friendly people and lifestyle,” Trevor said. “If we were back in England, we probably could not afford a three-bed, two-bath house with a double garage. Getting credit for things like a new car is so easy with a good credit score. When we first arrived, we had no credit history so we had to buy a car for cash. Now we can get 0% (interest) for a car purchase.”
Sponsors must uphold certain qualifications, including maintaining a clean criminal record and having a certain income.
In 2009, Trevor and Lesley along with 14 others went to the American embassy for a very solemn group interview. Paperwork was checked, medical and birth records were verified, and the Stock-dales received green cards in November 2010. They were given just six months to move to America, or they would have to re-apply. That same month, the couple moved to Hobbs, where sister Jean was residing. Though happy, the move was an emotional one.
“When we were coming over here, I basically missed my family,” Lesley recalled. “When we first came over here it was really hard, it was hard to leave them.”
Besides missing family, Lesley’s main concern is the way the U.S. bills for medical visits. Though they do have health insurance, they’re used to the National Health Service, the publicly funded national healthcare system for England, and have concerns of getting sick and obtaining a large medical bill.
Regarding Hobbs, Trevor exclaimed, “I love the price of gas!”
At the time of their move,
1 British pound was equal to approximately $1.65.
“Every Brit talks about the weather,” Trevor laughed.
“When we moved here, a nice day in England is 70 degrees, you know. Over here it gets well into the 100’s. At first it was very hard.” Trevor said. “When we first moved over, somebody said to me, ‘Look out your window cause there will be people dancing in the streets, cause it’s raining!’”
Trevor was born in 1958 in Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England. His father was a commercial fisherman, his mother a homemaker, and his two sisters are Audrey and Jean.
Born in 1960, Lesley is from Grimsby in Northeast Lincolnshire, England. Lesley’s father was a bricklayer, her mother a homemaker, and her three older brothers are Noel, Trevor, and Kevin.
Trevor met Lesley in 2001 at their mutual place of employment in Grimsby at Geest Prepared Foods. Before courtship, Trevor told Lesley of his strong desire to move to America. Lesley had visited California a few times prior and accepted. The happy couple married Sept. 15, 2007 and began making plans to make the United States their home.
The Stockdales really have made Hobbs their home.
“We both feel like we belong now,” Lesley said. “Whereas before we sort of … were in limbo, cause we were in between England and America. We’re still gonna be British all of our lives, but the USA is our home now.”
Trevor and Lesley both work at Walmart, a company they said has been great in the process of gaining citizenship. With little notice to take off from work, the Stockdales had to do various tasks, such as getting fingerprints documented in El Paso, Texas.
Lesley enjoys shopping, baking, cooking, and reading. She still brings a taste of England to her kitchen, with shepherd’s pie and Yorkshire pudding. She enjoys mystery shows and horror movies.
Trevor loves fishing and gardening. He loves the Grimsby Town soccer team, and the Discovery and National Geographic channels.
The Stockdales said that the wait list time was expected to be around 15 years. They gained citizenship in 10. Lesley gives encouragement to others seeking citizenship, “You’ll get there one day. You’ll get there.”