Friday, July 23, 2010
Dozens of immigrants gathered at Century II this morning, flanked by friends and loved ones, as they took the oath to become U.S. citizens.
Today's naturalization ceremony gave U.S. citizenship to an estimated 175 people from 34 countries. For many in the crowd, is the final chapter in a what has been a life-long dream.
"I'm very happy," said Arnoldo Gonzalez after the ceremony. "I'm happy for my family, my children. Just very happy."
Gonzalez says he's spent the last ten years working to become a U.S. citizen.
It was a similar story for Mexico-born Luis Gomez, whose parents brought him to the U.S. when he was only six months old. Now in his 30s, he says he's been working for almost 20 years to become a citizen.
"I remember starting when I was about eight," he told KAKE News.
Immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship must learn all about the country's history in a series of classes that culminate in an extensive test. Many are required to hold permanent resident status for five years before they can be eligible to apply.
"The test is hard," said Abel Schoeman, 20, who came to the United States as a child from South Africa.
After Friday's ceremony, voter registration forms were made available to new citizens. Dozens filled them out before leaving Century II, and say they plan to vote in the upcoming elections.
Countries from which the applicants immigrated from include El Salvador, Albania, Mexico, Vietnam, Palestine, Nigeria, Taiwan, Lebanon, Kenya, Ukraine, Guatemala, India, Pakistan, Jamaica, Shri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Togo, Somalia, South Africa, Honduras, China, Burma, Cypress, Malawi, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Iraq, Canada, Laos, Argentina, Germany and Syria.