YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mahoning County started holding naturalization ceremonies in the 1960s. The last one for 2015 was Thursday and included 12 people who left their native lands to settle in America.
The new citizens are entering the U.S. at a time when controversy over immigration is at its peak. Donald Trump wants to close the border to Muslims, and other candidates want to build a wall along the Mexican border. Then, these new citizens watched as the latest act of terrorism came to their new home in the U.S.
Even in the current political climate, citizens pledging their allegiance to the U.S. during Thursday’s ceremony feel they are safer in America and look forward to the freedoms that come with being an American citizen.
“It’s a new world for me. It is a land of opportunity. A dream come true for me,” said Philippines immigrant Mercedita Tatarciuc.
Dolores Ronzi, with the Daughters of American Revolution, has witnessed many naturalization ceremonies. She said it’s a joy to watch people who have longed to be citizens realize their dream.
“Sometimes you just see the expressions in their faces, and sometimes you see the tears in their eyes that they are very overwhelmed to become a citizen,” Ronzi said.
There are almost 9 million legal immigrants in the United States who are eligible to become citizens. Naturalization hit a peak in 2008 with more than 1 million people becoming U.S. citizens. Last year, the number was 729,000.