East Texans Celebrating Newly Declared U.S. Citizenship - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/17/07-Tyler

East Texans Celebrating Newly Declared U.S. Citizenship

Following an oath of allegiance inside the federal courthouse in downtown Tyler, 41 candidates are now United States citizens.

Thomas Estrada says he's a new man, the native Mexican even changing his first name to its American spelling.

"I feel good. I feel good to join the United States like a citizen," says Estrada.

Julia Canenquez from El Salvador adds, "I like the United States. I feel this is my country. I like, you know, the freedom."

For some of the new candidates the time it took to become new citizens took several years.

With the controversy of that immigration bill that would have given amnesty to millions of illegals here, the new citizens we spoke to said those who are here illegally should have to go through what they went through.

"Yeah they should earn it. It's not that hard. It's very easy," says Nah Jing from China.

"You have to follow the process. I think what I did is what they have to do," says Estrada.

"Oh, it took me a lot of years. A lot of years," says Blanca Estrada from El Salvador, referring to the process of applying for citizenship.

Guevara from says it was waiting on the government's decision for citizenship that was the grueling part in her process.

For immigrants who could get amnesty, Guevara replies, "No it would not bother me, because I know I would have got mine.  So hopefully, everyone can get theirs who want to get theirs easily."

Now that this journey to U.S. citizenship is over, these folks are especially proud knowing that the citizenship they earned cannot be taken away.

Most of the new citizens at the ceremony were originally from Mexico. There were others from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Germany.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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