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Carlos Correa Reports
Fri April 20, 2012
New Citizens in New Mexico
(LAS CRUCES) -- There are two hundred new citizens living in Southern New Mexico and it's the biggest amount of foreign nationals to be sworn in at one time.
It's the most important day of Cruz Serrano's life.
"I've been proud of living here and this place is a good place to live," she said.
At the age of 19, Serrano who serves in the United States Air force is finally becoming an American citizen.
"It makes me happy. It makes my parents proud, and if my parents are proud then I'm happy," said Serrano.
The El Paso Field Office for Citizenship and Immigration conducts naturalization ceremonies every two months, but this occasion is special because it's the biggest one its had in ten years.
"This means everything to them, to these people, a lot of people have been waiting a long period of time to become citizens of the United States. Each of these people have passed all the background checks, they have been interviewed, they meet all the requirements, they know to read, write and speak English and they know a lot about United States history and government," said Raymond Adams, director of the Field Office.
Among the two hundred applicants taking the oak of allegiance is Jose Ortiz.
"It's just special, it's the great moment of my life, yet," he said.
He says the four-hour drive to Las Cruces was all worth it. Now, Ortiz can plan for his future.
"I'm going back to school to study software engineering and hopefully that will go right and just go from there and see what happens," he said.
Leaders with the citizenship and immigration office say this round of applicants representing 22 different countries including Colombia, Mexico, Iraq and Canada.
"It feels a little stranger and also exciting seeing that I have lived here for 9 years, I do feel very American," said Alexander Kelly, 18, the youngest new citizen.
During fiscal year 2011, approximately 690,000 immigrants were naturalized nationwide.