More Than 50 Receive Citizenship During Naturalization Ceremony

With an oath and a piece of paper, the lives of more than 50 families were changed today in Tyler.  Citizens from other countries achieved their dreams today of becoming an American citizen.  Getting to this point is not an easy process.

There were a lot of excited people at the naturalization ceremony at the Federal courthouse in Tyler.   "I don't sleep last night, been waiting for this moment," said Jamal Asad, 44, who was born in Jordan.  Asad came to this country 23 years ago with a student visa.

Marisol Salas, 29, of Mexico, took a different route. "I was very scared when I crossed," said Salas, a former Mexican citizen.  Ten years ago, Salas crossed the border illegally to look for a brighter future in America.

Asad says he saved up money for several years in order to come to the United States to get a degree in electronics. "I work for three years before I came to the United States, to have to make some money, to pay for the ticket, airplane ticket," said Asad.

Asad, Salas and 35 others realized their dreams of becoming U.S. citizens today before judge John Love.  "Since the birth of the United States, over 50 million immigrants have arrived in this country searching for opportunities that were denied to them in their native land," said U.S. Magistrate Judge John Love.

Becoming a U.S. citizen is a long process. The first thing you have to do is have a citizen petition a green card for you.  After getting a green card, you have to be a resident for five years before you can apply for citizenship. Then, you have to pass a U.S. citizenship test and a background check.

Salas says she is grateful for the opportunities this country has given her.  "The best thing I have in my life, the U.S. gave to me," said Salas. "I'm gonna throw big party, bring my friends and my family to celebrate. I've been waiting for this for a long time," said Asad.

Although most of those who became U.S. citizens today were from Mexico, there were people from all over the world at the ceremony. Some came from the Netherlands, Pakistan and Russia.

Oralia Ortega, Reporting.