He Waited 6 Years for Citizenship Test. Then, a Big 'Letdown'

Blind man Lucio Delgado fails because test wasn't available in Braille
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2020 2:00 PM CST
Blind Man's 'First Letdown in America': US Citizenship Test
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/SerbBgd)

When Lucio Delgado arrived in the US from Mexico six years ago, he set his sights on learning English and becoming an American citizen. Per the Washington Post, the then-teen had come to the US with his family to escape drug cartels and to give him better opportunities due to his disability: Delgado was born with retinopathy of prematurity, a condition that left him completely blind. But that didn't stop him from learning English however he could, including by listening to the radio, and studying for the test administered by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. He even got an optometrist's note saying he's legally blind, so he could get the test in Braille. When test day came in May, Delgado, now 23, aced the civics part of the test, which was oral, and prepared to do the reading portion. Then, bad news: USCIS had no Braille versions, only large print.

I'm like ... I'm totally blind," Delgado says. He was given three attempts to read a sentence and could not manage it.The agent said he could come back and get the reading part waived but only with a note from an ophthalmologist, not an optometrist. Delgado doesn't have health insurance, so he couldn't afford to do that. "It shattered all of my dreams in one second," he tells CBS Chicago. The Post notes USCIS has been aware of barriers to citizenship for those with disabilities since at least 2018, when it put out a memo citing "systemic" issues, including a lack of Braille materials. In November, the agency started offering the test in Braille, and Delgado says he's been invited back to USCIS next Friday. His pro bono attorney says the case speaks to the unfair barriers faced by those with disabilities. "This was my first letdown in America," says Delgado. (More US citizenship stories.)

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