As part of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s annual Independence Day celebration, 157 immigrants became U.S citizens Friday (July 7) at Fresno City College.
Friday’s naturalization ceremony at the college’s Old Administration Building, was one of the many Independence Day-themed naturalization ceremonies taking place across the country between June 26 and July 18 to celebrate the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and the nation’s birthday.
Rubén Barba Noriega was among the Valley residents from 19 counties including Cambodia, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, México, Nepal, Philippines y Vietnam, who raised their right hand to pledge allegiance to the United States.
“Very good, happy,” said Barba Noriega in Spanish of becoming U.S. citizen.
The 69-year-old from San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco, México has been living in the Unites States for half a century.
Barba Noriega said that on May 2 he celebrated 50 years in this country.
He lives in Los Baños with his wife of 45 years, Margie, who came with him and two granddaughters to the naturalization ceremony.
Margie got emotional and had tears in her eyes seeing her husband finally becoming U.S. citizen after living in this country most of his life.
She said they plan to celebrate this milestone over the weekend with most of his family.
“He has 10 brothers and four sisters,” she said.
Andrea Rodríguez has lived in the United States for 30 years said she was “very happy” of taking the step to become a naturalized citizen.
Each and everyone of you bring something special to this country.
Fresno City College president Dr. Carole Goldsmith
Rodríguez, who is a native from Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México, and now lives in Porterville said she was a little nervous the morning of the ceremony.
“More than in the interview,” said Rodríguez.
Fresno City College president Dr. Carole Goldsmith welcome all new U.S citizens not only to the college campus but to this country.
“Welcome to be part of this amazing country,” Goldsmith said. “Each and everyone of you bring something special to this country.”
Dr. Bertha Félix-Mata, director of West Hills College Coalinga and the author of ‘Dandelions in the Wild: The Voices of Migrant Youth From Poverty to Leadership’ was the guest speaker in the ceremony.
Félix-Mata encouraged the new citizens to “exercise your right to vote.”
“You have that power, use it every time you get a chance.”
Félix-Mata, who share her mother’s immigration story coming to the Unites State asked the those in front of her to “give back to your community, volunteer, be a mentor.”
Where are they from
- 1. México, 118;
- 2. India 9;
- 3. El Salvador 6;
- 4. Philippines 4;
- 5. Laos 3;
- 6. Guatemala 2;
- 7. Thailand 2;
- 8. Yemen 2;
- 9. Honduras 1
- Also: Cambodia 1; Cameroon 1; Egypt 1, Germany 1; Jordan 1; Latvia 1; Nepal 1; Pakistan 1; Ukraine 1 and Vietnam 1