More than a dozen immigrants took their oaths of citizenship Thursday in Philadelphia. The backdrop was one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
The 13 men and women from 10 different countries rang a bell during the ceremony at which they received their citizenship papers at the Betsy Ross House in Old City.
Gonzalo Ramirez, from Mexico, has been in the United States for 21 years. He was happy to complete the citizenship process, which took him more than five years.
“I’ve been working so hard, it’s my dream. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. It’s not easy, [but] everybody can do it if I can do it,” Ramirez said.
Thayse Conte comes from Brazil and said she is happy to finally become a citizen.
“It feels amazing. It’s one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, to be honest. I’ve lived here for 15 years, and during that time I’ve had a student visa, a work visa and a green card. … Finally becoming a U.S. citizen, I can’t describe the feeling.”
Conte said having full citizenship status made her life more comfortable.
“I had a son, so I just wanted to feel safe. Even with a green card … you could get kicked out of the country, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. The U.S. citizenship was more certainty that I could be here equal to everyone else. And now I can vote, which is something I could not do for 15 years.”
Mayor Jim Kenney and others urged the new citizens to avail themselves of all the advantages, including the right to vote. Many of the newest citizens said they can’t wait to vote in their first election.
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