New United States Citizens Sworn In at Naturalization Ceremony

Nearly six dozen people are spending their first night as official American citizens following their official swearing-in at the federal courthouse Wednesday morning.

Some came from countries like Syria, where a civil war is still raging. Others made their way from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chile, China and a host of other places around the globe. Nearly 70 people swore an oath to the country and the U.S. Constitution at the ceremony.

Then the entire room packed full of their relatives and journalists alike joined them in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The new American citizens all had to be permanent residents here for at least five years. They also had to prove that they were of good moral character. They had to know English and have a basic understanding of American politics and history.

"I was so excited, I almost cried," Ana Valentin said. "It was all too much emotionally for me. I cannot ever hardly believe it, I'm like, am I dreaming? Yes, the ceremony was fine. It was very organized, and I have my certificate right here. I'm so happy."

"I cannot believe it, I'm so happy to be a United States citizen. My dream finally came true," Guadalupe Coto said.

Coto said she's a big fan of 3news, and that she works at a Mexican food restaurant in Rockport. Now that she's a citizen, she's ready to vote in elections there for the very first time. That is one of her new rights, and she registered to vote on Wednesday right after the citizenship ceremony.

Valentin is from Honduras, and said she is studying to become a medical assistant and that she, too, signed up to vote.

Many of those newly sworn in Americans had to go through a lot to get their citizenship, and may have gone to Catholic Charities for help. The nonprofit provides low-cost immigration services.

"A lot of the people we see here are documented," said Kimberley Seger, an immigration attorney for Catholic Charities. "It's kind of a myth that everybody coming through is undocumented, but a lot of people who are here who wish to extend their visas or petition for a family member to come, either as a green card holder or sometimes they've been here long enough to apply for citizenship."

Seger is one of two attorneys at Catholic Charities who handles immigration cases.

Thursday morning is walk-in day at Catholic Charities, where the first 10 people have their cases looked into for a $25 fee. Sometimes that amount is waived if they cannot afford it.

The nonprofit does not handle deportations or detentions, so if you're hoping for help with that, you will have to find your own attorney.


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