KANKAKEE COUNTY, Ill. — Lucio Delgado was looking forward to the day in which he could become a U.S. citizen. The 23-year-old permanent resident is completely blind and moved to the U.S. six years ago from Mexico for a better life.
“Over here I was going to get the education I couldn’t get In Mexico,” Delgado told CBS Chicago. “I was going to be someone. I was going to make my family here and there proud.”
Learning English through school and the radio, Delgado believed he was ready to take the U.S. Citizenship test after practicing all the questions.
On May 21, Delgado completed the oral portion of the exam and spelled the words like Thanksgiving and president correctly, but failed the test after a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer couldn't provide Delgado with a Braille copy of the exam, they only had large print, according to the Washington Post.
“Unfortunately, you were unable to read a sentence in the English language,” a letter sent to Delgado by USCIS said. “Regrettably, you were unable to achieve a passing score on the reading portion of the naturalization test.”
The USCIS didn't believe Delgado was blind, despite a visit to the optometrist prior to taking the exam. Instead, officers at the USCIS said he needed to visit an ophthalmologist instead, something Delgado couldn't afford without health insurance.
“They still didn’t believe I was blind,” Delgado told CBS Chicago.
After the Post contacted the USCIS for comment, spokespeople said they began offering the test in Braille to blind applicants in November, months after Delgado took it.
While not commenting on specific cases, the USCIS said, that they have "policies in place to ensure accommodations are provided for people with disabilities when requested, and [they] make every effort to ensure that these policies are followed at all time.”
Since the incident, pro bono attorney Darcy Kriha who handles cases involving Americans with Disabilities Act has taken on the case.
Kriha told the Post that the USCIS has set up an appointment to meet with Delgado again on March 13, hoping his needs will then be accommodated.