As many as 45,000 immigrants in 260 naturalization ceremonies across the nation were sworn in as United States citizens in observance of Citizenship Day this week, including 50 children in Los Angeles, some born elsewhere to U.S.-born parents.
“I feel very good,” said 11-year-old Davies García, who was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. when he was just three. For his dad, Antonio, it was important the boy become American on paper. ”Half of my family is undocumented,” he said, “and I see how they struggle to get ahead. I want my children to have everything possible.”
Davies’s application process was much faster as the minor son of a U.S. citizen—“the process was very fast, it took like three months,” Antonio told La Opinion—but others have certainly faced years of paperwork. “I climbed a mountain,” said Anna Quincy, a Bulgarian-born immigrant who was sworn in as a citizen in Spokane Valley, Washington state. “I’m on top right now. And I have a proud American flag.”
In Brooklyn’s federal court, 50 immigrants were sworn in. “The men and women who will become citizens today and the thousands who are naturalized every year have given up everything,” said Chief Judge Dora Irizarry, “their countries, families and homes, many coming with nothing more than the clothes on their backs to pursue their hopes and dreams for a better future in the land of freedom.”
“I’m very excited for this event because I feel that I’m reborn,” said Bashar Mahdi, an Iraqi immigrant, who now lives in Portland, Maine. “Reborn to belong to a nation that will actually provide me the identity, a new identity, provide me with dignity, the freedom and all the human rights that humans require.”
While certain leaders continue to seek division and believe our best days are far behind us, these new Americans bring with them their hopes, dreams, and enduring spirit. They, the ordinary Americans who make up our nation’s fabric, make us great. “I have freedom,” Quincy continued. “I have freedom to travel. I have freedom to be who I want to be. And I can vote.”