New location for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services opens on North Side
No longer in Windcrest, USCIS moves to Highway 281, Evans Road
SAN ANTONIO – After 25 years in the city of Windcrest, off Interstate 35 and Loop 410, the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office has moved to the far North Side in a retail center along Highway 281 and Evans Road.
Mario Ortiz, USCIS district director, said the San Antonio field office serves 78 counties, with half of its workload coming from the Austin area.
He said the site chosen by the General Services Administration was “generally where we needed to be.”
Ortiz said USCIS is using social media and working with community-based organizations to help spread the word about the new location. Even so, some of the people the agency serves said they didn’t know the agency had moved.
Beatrice Villegas said she started her day in Windcrest.
“We were used to just going over there. Now, all of a sudden, we have to come all the way over here,” Villegas said.
Elsa Rodriguez, who had to drive across town, said the move is very inconvenient.
Rodriguez said there was a lot of construction along the way from her home near Lackland Air Force Base and even more is planned for Highway 281.
For those who must rely on public transportation, the closest bus stops are about 2 miles away at the Walmart near the corner of Highway 281 and Loop 1604. But there are shuttles that come by every 15 minutes, depending on traffic, to take people back and forth.
Despite what’s now involved in getting there, Rodriguez said the service at the new location seems to have improved.
“It’s very fast, very organized, very polite and very friendly,” she said.
There’s also plenty of parking at the new larger, centralized facility.
Ortiz said it’s important for immigrants working on their legal status and others to know that the office no longer shares a building with law enforcement, with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, like it did at its Windcrest location.
The new facility even has a large room for citizenship ceremonies.
“Now we can conduct our naturalization ceremonies on a routine basis, increasing the efficiency and the cycle time that it takes for someone to become an American citizen,” Ortiz said.
People will take their oath of citizenship in a room dedicated to Marine Sgt. Cesar Ruiz, who was killed in action in 2009 in Afghanistan.
“He was a permanent resident of the United States. On the day he was killed, he automatically became an American citizen,” Ortiz said.
The fallen Marine’s widow and family were guests of honor at Thursday’s grand opening of the USCIS field office.
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