This year, the 4th July holiday was more than a celebration of the nation’s independence for many immigrants. Naturalization ceremonies, organized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS), were held all over the country. In California, a ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center allowed thousands of people realize their dream of becoming US citizens.
Ceremony organizers said that over 8,000 people became U.S. citizens as part of the proceedings. Those involved took an oath and received a certificate confirming their adjustment of status. Family members and friends cheered for their loved ones outside of the Convention Center after the participants were granted their new status.
A young man from Chile was among the thousands of participants. He and his brother had lived in the U.S. for over ten years before applying to become citizens. His brother, a graduate student who became a naturalized citizen two months earlier, was also present to support him. His brother said that they never felt pressured to become naturalized or to assimilate into U.S. culture and that they are still trying to work out what being an American means to them.
Applying to live and work in the U.S. can be a complicated and overwhelming process, and for some immigrants in California, the wait to become citizens continues. Unfortunately, many immigrants are threatened with deportation before they have been able to apply for legal status. Navigating immigration law can often be a challenge, and many immigrants may find the advice of a knowledgeable legal professional helpful when petitioning for citizenship.
Source: Southern California Public Radio, “Thousands of immigrants become naturalized citizens at LA Convention Center,” 30 June 2011