As we head into Independence Day weekend and people celebrate the founding of our country with fireworks, parades, and picnics, there will be about 4,000 people who will be celebrating as new citizens of the United States. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is hosting more than 50 naturalization ceremonies across the country July 1–4.
“As we celebrate Independence Day, we welcome over 4,000 new Americans who will be able to enjoy all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship,” said USCIS Director León Rodríguez. “From Los Angeles to New York, Miami to Seattle, Indianapolis to Los Alamos, these individuals are showing their full commitment to the freedoms, values, and ideals that have inspired Americans since the Declaration of Independence in 1776.”
Here at NCLR, one of our colleagues recalled becoming a U.S. citizen last year. Berenice Rodriguez came to the United States from Mexico and she was one of the approximately eight million legal permanent residents eligible to become a citizen. Berenice wanted to become a U.S. citizen because her husband and her two children were both citizens and she wanted to make sure that she would have the security and stability that would come with naturalizing and not having to worry about renewing her permanent residency. She recalls the application being long and being nervous the day of her interview at USCIS. Berenice smiles brightly when describing what it means to her to have become a U.S. citizen:
“I feel it was an honor to become a citizen. I have learned to love this country. Once I became a citizen everything changed. I am a part of this country. It was important to me to become a citizen and I did it. I feel proud.”
Now that she has become a U.S. citizen Berenice is looking forward to voting for the first time in the 2016 elections. She described having new responsibilities as a citizen such as serving as on a jury. There are also benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen such as having greater access to education and employment opportunities.
If you’re looking to be inspired this weekend, check out the hashtag #newUScitizen for photos and tweets from ceremonies across the country happening at monuments, libraries, and of course, a baseball park.