It was a long road, but just over a year ago, on November 18, 2016 Salvador Orona, a longtime Casa Cerrillos resident, became an American citizen.
The oldest child in a family of eight from Delicias, Chihuahua, Salvador left home at 15 seeking work. He arrived in the United States in 1963, shortly after the Kennedy assassination, picking apples in Washington, harvesting hops for a brewery and doing other agricultural work, all the time sending some of his wages back to his family in Mexico.
He returned often to Mexico, but always came back to the United States where jobs were more plentiful. For many years he worked as a cowboy for the W Cattle Company in Texas, where he obtained his residency papers in 1988 during an amnesty program under President Reagan.
Salvador was very close to the family that ran the ranch, and when the owner died in 1993, he decided it was time to leave. A friend told him about Santa Fe and how good its climate was – not too cold in the winter and not too hot in the summer – so he moved here.
“There was always work – gardening, restaurants, cleaning jobs – and it was easy to meet people and make new friends,” he recalls. “Some of us would go in together and rent an apartment.”