LIFESTYLE

Watching a 101-year-old woman become an American citizen may motivate you to vote

Voter turnout is usually as low as the general excitement around midterm elections, but Lupita Portillo may be the motivation you need to cast a vote.

The 102-year-old California woman became a U.S. citizen last September, when she was 101. Weeks after she became a citizen, Portillo voted for the first time in a municipal race. Next Tuesday will be the first major race where she will cast her vote. 

“I want to go out with a sign that says "Vote! Vote! Don't be dumb, go vote!...If I can do it, everybody can do it.”

- Lupita Portillo

“I want to go out with a sign that says "Vote! Vote! Don't be dumb, go vote!" Portillo told Fox News Latino.  “If I can do it, everybody can do it.”

In a new online movie documentary called "American Dream," she said: “One vote can make a difference."  

The nine-minute movie is a patriotic ode to Portillo following her emotional journey to becoming a U.S. citizen. Portillo was born in Autlan, Mexico in October 1912. She first came to the United States in 1963 and worked at a fabric factory sewing shoulders on dress shirts.

“I came to work to help my husband and since then I fell in love with the United States,” Portillo said.

She permanently moved to the U.S. in the 1990s. Over the years, she's had 11 children, 13 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, all of whom are American citizens. She refers to them as the "future of the U.S."

Under U.S. law, Portillo had to wait 15 years after applying for citizenship to take the test in Spanish because she does not know English.

“I thought to myself, I’ll probably be dead by then,” Portillo said.

Portillo is anything but dead. Her energy is obvious in the movie and her level of passion for the red, white, and blue is infectious, particularly when she explained how she reacted when a U.S. immigration official asked her how she would react if America was attacked.

""Defend it of course!" I said," she said, laughing, though emphatically holding up her hand. "If I had a bat. I would defend it with a bat, because I can’t do much in the wheelchair. I would hit them over the head with a bat."

Midterm election turnout is especially low in the Latino community, just 31 percent of Hispanic voters cast a ballot during the 2010 midterms compared to 44 percent of blacks and 49 percent of whites.

 The director of "American Dream," Cristina Malavenda, believes Portillo's story is a reminder that Americans shouldn't take their freedom, particularly the right to vote, for granted.

"Her purity in love for the United States is just so powerful," Malvenda said. "And it reminds us how grateful we should be to have the rights that we do as citizens of the United States."

And as for the presidential election in 2016, Portillo said the candidate she votes for will end the wars around the world.

“If I were president,” she said. “I would try to solve problems without bullets.”

Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). Click here for more information on Bryan Llenas. Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas.