Doctor Who Saved Life of Immigration Officer Presented with Citizenship

A doctor and patient who met last year during a life-saving surgery were recently reunited during an immigration ceremony where 450 people were confirmed with now having U.S. Citizenship, according to The Associated Press.

Dr. Gabriel Gonzales-Portillo, a Peruvian native who recently received his naturalization papers, hugged Melissa Wingerd, a Tampa, Florida-area immigration officer, whom he saved last year. Gonzales-Portillo performed an emergency brain operation on Wingerd to remove a vein from her brain that had popped and caused a major brain hemorrhage, according to the AP.

Upon identifying her ailment, Wingerd’s main doctor told her she would die if she did not undergo immediate brain surgery. Luckily, Dr. Gonzales-Portillo was available, and quickly performed the surgery that saved Wingerd’s life.

At the March 14 ceremony, Wingerd shared her personal experience with Gonzales-Portillo in front of the other 449 nearly-naturalized citizens, stating that events like this show her and other immigration officers just how much immigrants enrich the citizenship of the United States.

“I wanted them to know that we see every day the value that they bring, not like the general public. We see it every day,” Wingerd told The Associated Press. “Immigrants bring a lot to this country on so many different levels. They bring a lot of value. They are this country.”

According to a recent article in the Minnesota newspaper The Bemidji Pioneer, immigrants will be a large part of several southern states getting back on their feet. Currently, southeastern states account for nine of the 10 poorest states, and many also have the strictest immigration laws. Interestingly, these states are also the ones that America pays the most to keep running – for example, every dollar that Alabamans pay in federal taxes, they get 1.66 in federal money in return. By contrast, California, whose immigration population is among the largest, gets only 75 cents back from every dollar its residents pay in taxes.