AP NEWS
ADVERTISEMENT

Federal judge administers citizenship oath to 103 immigrants in Spokane Valley

May 2, 2017 GMT

As people marched for immigration across the country on Monday, a federal judge oversaw 103 people from 41 different countries become Americans citizens during a naturalization ceremony at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley.

“This day will live forever in your personal history and your family’s history,” said U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice. “You are joining a nation of immigrants, but don’t forget your heritage.”

The new Americans brought groups of friends and family whom Rice encouraged to cheer and clap as people crossed the floor to get their citizenship certificates.

“It is an amazing feeling,” said Karolina Hosford, 41, and from Poland. Her friends brought her a card and promised a little celebration later.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Probably something with bubbles,” Hosford said in flawless English.

Each year the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalize between 700,000 and 750,000 people at ceremonies held here and abroad.

During 2016 the top countries of origin for naturalization were Mexico, India, Philippines, China and Cuba.

People from other countries seek citizenship for many different reasons. For instance, 2,925 military spouses have been naturalized since the beginning of 2008.

Omar Davis, 32, was born in Jamaica and came to Washington to join family.

His wife, Lucretia Davis, 40, beamed by his side after the ceremony was over.

“It was natural to me to become a citizen,” Davis said. “I live here. I have a good job and a family - it’s the right thing to do.”

Stanislav Harin, 29, and born in Kyrgyzstan, was all smiles when the ceremony was over.

“It means a lot,” Harin said. “I now feel like I am 100 percent American.”

Harin said he likes his life here and didn’t find it difficult to make the decision.

“I mean, why not?” Harin said, adding that he had a bunch of errands to run before hopefully celebrating with his family and friends.

As people were sworn in, friends held up smart phones to record the moment. Some were tearful, all were proud, including 19-year-old Leon Mugo, who brought his parents to the ceremony.

He was nine when he left Kenya and said he misses the country and his friends - but he’s settling on his future.

“I’m studying dental hygiene at Eastern Washington University and I want to be an orthodontist,” Mugo said.

Does it feel different to be American?

“It does,” Mugo said, smiling. “I feel excited. It’s a very uplifting feeling.”