It was a joyous day for dozens of people in East Texas. They woke up this morning, holding tight to their green cards. Now, they are proud to be American citizens.
Seventy-eight people from nearly 20 different countries became U.S. citizens. "Now I can say I'm an American," said 35-year-old Anel Garfias proudly. Garfias came to the U.S. from Mexico.
The courtroom at Tyler's Federal Courthouse was packed this morning with family and friends, there to see their loved ones' dream come true. "It feels like owning your home, instead of renting, you know," said 41-year-old Anna Pavlova Wolf, who left her native Russia 15 years ago.
Pavlova came to the United States to earn her Ph.D. and to give her son a better future. "You know, the main thing between being America and Russia, is that here I know that I can change things if I will work hard. In Russia, there was a sense of no future. You don't feel capable of changing things," said Pavlova.
While each person at this morning's ceremony had their own reason for coming to this country, everyone agrees, today is a day they'll never forget. "The freedom that I have, there is no limit to it," said Paul Wong, who's from the Philippines. Roselyn Sarasin, who's also from the Philippines says she's been waiting for this day for a long time. "Being a citizen, it's like a dream come true," said the 38-year-old. Sarasin became a citizen five years to the day she came to this country. She says she's happy to be a citizen, and to see an end to a six-month legal process. "It's the last step, final, for my papers to be a citizen," she says.
This is the fifth naturalization ceremony held in Tyler this year. Hundreds of people have become U.S. citizens in these ceremonies.
Now, after the half-hour ceremony, it's time for these new Americans to celebrate their status. "We are going to have barbecue, the Texan way, you know," said Pavolova.