Tyler Holds Two Naturalization Ceremonies

There were tears of joy and lots of smiles in a downtown Tyler courtroom today. Dozens of people walked out with a very important piece of paper today: their naturalization certificate. Forty-one people went into U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Guthrie's courtroom this morning to become American citizens, people such as Luis Rodriguez from Mexico, Michael Ashigbi from Guyana, Sang Hwang from South Korea and Abel Olalde Santoyo from Mexico.

"This was probably one of the best days of my life because I've been waiting for this day for a while to come and finally it's here," said Ashigbi.

Before they entered this room, they were citizens of 17 different countries, but they would all leave as Americans. Some, such as 26-year-old Sarawut Kelley, have been waiting years for this day to arrive. "I start thinking about it seven or eight years ago," said Kelley.

There were tears of joy shed as the ceremony got underway. But participants aren't the only ones who find the event emotional. "I cry about half the time myself when I'm doing these ceremonies," said Judge Guthrie. "It's really touchy, very much so."

As they exited the ceremony, there were lots of smiles, as these new citizens received U.S. flags and took a look at their naturalization certificates. "Now that I'm a naturalized citizen, I'm able to do things that I'm unable to do before, such as the right to vote," said Ashigbi. "The opportunity is endless," said Kelley.

There were two naturalization ceremonies held today in Tyler. More than 80 citizens were sworn in.

Oralia Ortega, reporting.  ortega@kltv.com