Stefani Booroojian didn’t go through the immigrant experience both sets of her grandparents went through, but she sympathized with what each of the 900 newest U.S. citizens went through.
“My grandparents never complained about starting a live in the United States,” the KSEE Channel 24 news anchor said during brief remarks at the March 13 naturalization ceremony inside Valdez Hall at the Fresno Convention Center.
One grandfather left alone from Armenia 100 years ago never to see his cousins and other family members again, said Booroojian. He escaped the Armenian genocide but left his “live and his livelihood in Armenia.”
“I can’t imagine how scared and very far away from everything they felt,” said Booroojian. “I’m sure each and every one of you has a story just as important.”
Booroojian spoke to a mass of immigrants and their family members and supporters who showed up for the monthly naturalization ceremony. Among them were 583 new U.S. citizens with roots in México.
Three of the people who took the oath of naturalization and later heard a video welcome from President Donald J. Trump were from Armenia.
Those from México made the loudest cheers and waved small, U.S. flags when the 47 nations represented were announced. Lynn Feldman, Fresno field director of the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Services, compared the smiles of the citizens to those of the athletes at the recent Winter Olympics.
Candelaria Álvarez, originally from Tecomán, Jalisco, México, decided it was time to become a citizen after living in the U.S. for 30 years.
“This is the country of opportunities,” said the 58-year-old resident of Patterson. “It was time to do it, plus there are many benefits. I hold my head up high.”
Álvarez, who used to work in the fields, saluted during the playing of the national anthem.
“I never thought I’d get to this point,” she said. “Everything in life has a reward.”
Bakersfield karate instructor Rosendo Gerónimo has lived in the U.S. for 25 years since leaving his native México City.
“It’s something I always dreamed about,” he said about U.S. citizenship.
Marcelino Padilla Torres, another Bakersfield resident, has lived in the U.S. since 1972. The native of Ocotlán, Jalisco, México said he became naturalized to gain the right to vote.
Twenty-four-year-old twins Ashley López and Lince Anais León, both of Los Baños, also became U.S. citizens after moving to the U.S. from Guadalajara, Jalisco, México 10 years ago.
“It’s because I want to vote,” said López.
Where they came from
1. México, 583; 2. India, 73; 3. Philippines, 65; 4. El Salvador, 18; 5. Laos, 17; 6. China, 12; 7.Thailand, Vietnam, 10; 9. Yemen, 8; 10. Cambodia, Portugal, 7. Also: Argentina, 1; Chile, 1; Colombia, 2; Cuba, 1; Guatemala, 4, Honduras, 5; Nicaragua, 4; Venezuela, 3.