HIALEAH, FLA. (WSVN) - Dozens of people became America’s newest citizens at a naturalization ceremony held in Hialeah, one day before the Fourth of July.
One hundred and fifty-five people from 23 countries, many of them holding small U.S. flags, sat in anticipation at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Hialeah Field Office, Monday.
The occasion, part of USCIS’ Independence Day celebration, marked the fulfillment of a long-standing dream of citizenship for many of them, including Daphnee Eerie’s 80-year-old father.
“All his life, that’s who he wanted to become,” said Eerie. “I’m happy. I don’t know how to express it … I’m blessed because this country gives you the opportunity to be here and to do great by it.”
“This is a very special day,” said new U.S. citizen Marco Malave in Spanish.
Malave, 77, came to the U.S. from Venezuela. In his adopted country, he said, there are laws and freedoms that allow citizens to live a much better life.
“It’s a super special day,” said Janet Shields from Ecuador.
Shields’ entire family was in attendance to share the happy occasion.
For Cassandra Lararore from Turks and Caicos, this day has been more than 40 years in the making. “I always thought I was an American, even though I wasn’t,” she said. “I love this country. I’m proud to be an American.”
Lorena Rodriguez from Colombia is also feeling patriotic. “It’s an honor to become an American citizen. It’s a dream,” she said. “I came for an internship, and I stayed to do my master’s.”
Rodriguez said America also paved the way for romantic fulfillment. “I met my husband, the love of my life,” she said.
For her husband, Edgar Rodriguez, the ceremony was also an emotional occasion. “I’m just proud of her because everything she’s done to be here, how she furthered her education and everything. It’s just amazing,” he said. “We have a daughter who’s also U.S.-born. We’re just a happy family, happily American family.”
The largest representation at Monday’s ceremony came from Cuba with 79 people. Venezuela was the second largest with 14 new U.S. citizens.
Copyright 2017 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.