Olympic Medal Winning Mexican-American Cherishes Citizenship
‘For me not to be able to call myself American would be like a death in the family,’ said 23-year-old Henry Cejudo.
Born in South Central Los Angeles to undocumented Mexican immigrants, Cejudo won an Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, but he says his U.S. citizenship means more to him than any medal.
Cejudo is a U.S. citizen by birthright, and became the youngest American wrestler to win a gold medal, but his amazing story is being overshadowed by Republican lawmakers’ challenge of a century old tenet that says a person born in the U.S. is automatically a citizen. If such a change were to stand, babies like Cejudo, with undocumented ancestors, would no longer automatically become U.S. citizens just for being born within American borders.
Cejudo said he understands the frustration over people entering the U.S. illegally, but he doesn’t believe it’s fair that children be denied opportunities because of something they had no part in.
“The U.S. has given me and my family the greatest opportunity imaginable, he said. “It has given us freedom. Everyone is completely equal here in this country.”
Since winning Olympic gold, Cejudo has bought himself a condominium in Phoenix and is currently attending Grand Canyon University. He trains 5 hours a day in preparation for the 2012 Olympics in London.
“I’m living the American Dream.”