William Aguilera Martínez felt proud of himself as he walked up to receive his certificate of citizenship at the Kingsburg Library earlier this month.
The 9-year-old from Parlier was among the 18 youngsters from six countries that took the Oath of Allegiance administered by USCIS Fresno Field Office Supervisory Immigration Services Officer Dr. Marshall Lancaster on July 5 as part of the U.S. Independence Day celebration.
Out of the 18 children, 8 were from México, one from Cuba, one from China, four from India, three from the Philippines and one from Egypt.
The federal agency celebrated the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the country by welcoming nearly 7,500 new citizens in nearly 110 naturalization ceremonies from July 1-5. Naturalization ceremonies were held in venues across the country including the 9/11 Memorial & Museum on July 2 in New York City, on board the USS Constitution in Boston as well as a special ceremony at the National Archives Museum on July 4, where the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are housed.
Each year, USCIS marks Independence Day with naturalization ceremonies to celebrate the day the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, declaring that the 13 American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation – the United States of America – and were no longer part of the British Empire.
William’s father, Maurilio Aguilera, said his son was only 5 months old when he came to the United States from Panindícuaro, Michoacán, México.
Aguilera, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen approximately four years ago, said his other two children, ages 6 and 2, were born here.
According to Sharon Rummery, USCIS public affairs officer, when parents naturalize, their children under 18 years old who have green cards and live with them automatically become U.S. citizens.
Kingsburg’s ceremony provided those children with certificates of citizenship to show, along with their foreign birth certificates, to prove they’ve been naturalized. The ceremony included a special performance by children’s librarian Jamie Kurumaji.
Welcoming the children and their families was Shonda Graham, senior library assistant.
Delivering the keynote address was Kingsburg City Council Member and mayor pro-tem Laura North who told the new citizens that their “opportunities are endless.”
North said those opportunities include voting, which is “a right and a responsibility.”
“You have an opportunity to make a difference in this country,” North said.
Emiliano Silva became a new U.S citizen two days before his birthday on July 7 along with his younger brother Marcos Silva.
The Silva brothers, who were born in Valle de Santiago, Guanajuato, México, came to the ceremony from Bakersfield accompanied by their mother María Luisa Silva.
The brothers who are in high school said they are happy to be U.S citizens because now they would have more opportunities for college.
Silva said her husband, José Refugio Silva, who was a U.S citizen when he died a few years ago, would be very happy to know his two younger children taking the step of becoming a naturalized citizen of this county.
According to USCIS officials, USCIS is committed to promoting awareness and understanding of citizenship by offering a variety of free citizenship preparation resources for applicants and teachers, including materials like the Establishing Independence lesson plan in the Citizenship Resource Center.
Immigrant-serving organizations can register to receive a free Civics and Citizenship Toolkit to help lawful permanent residents prepare for naturalization.