There’s been a lot of anger and confusion lately over new immigration laws in our country — but anger and confusion certainly are not the only emotions attached to these debates.
Take it from the proud, new group of American citizens just taking their oath of allegiance on Friday at the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse in downtown Phoenix.
“It was really hard at first, but thanks to my mom, she always encouraged us to fight for the things that we wanted in life,” said Teresa Lopez Moreno, who immigrated to the country as a child.
For Ernesto Arvayo, a teacher, the lifestyle and form of government is what attracted him to the United States almost 20 years ago.
“It’s been a long process. You have to go through a lot of hurdles to get here and become a resident, and become a citizen when you qualify,” Arvayo said.
Many traveled farther than south of the border in search of a better life.
“I love America,” said Cynthia Gyau, originally from Ghana. “I’ve been here for 11 years. I’m in school, I have my kids here.”
“It’s nice to be in a country that you’re free, and you have countless opportunities,” said George Jones, originally from Jamaica.
For many, the U.S. has felt like home even before it became official.
“It’s just like loving someone, you know. I got here, I love the place, and I made it my home even before I became a citizen,” Gyau said.
For dozens of new Americans, earning and receiving their naturalization certificates was a proud moment.
“I feel different already. I can’t explain it, but like some weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Arvayo said.
“It’s very exciting. It feels like I’m born again,” Gyau said.
Holding the tiny U.S. flag that was given to those in the ceremony, Arvayo said, “This represents simply everything that I’ve been looking for--the pursuit of happiness, and freedom, and just [to] live the lifestyle that you want to live.”