TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – Dozens of immigrants and their families cheered Wednesday as they marked a new chapter and a new title: U.S. citizen. The new citizens gathered for a naturalization ceremony at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, waving small American flags, standing when the name of their native country was called and cheering after they completed their oath.
“It’s a lifetime dream,” said Samuel Fernandez. Fernandez is originally from the Dominican Republican but says he has lived most of his life in the United States, feeling like an American but realizing now, “I wasn’t.” He waited so long out of “negligence,” Fernandez said. “I just let it go by, let time go by,” he said.
But on Tuesday, he celebrated, raising his arm in the air and smiling. It was an emotional day for Jorge Jimenez, a 14-year-old who watched his mother work hard to qualify to become a U.S. citizen. “I’m very proud because I see she can do it, and if she works hard enough, she can do bigger things,” he said, standing next to his mother with her new citizenship certificate.
It was also a big day for Jimenez, who came to the United States at four years old from Cuba and who now gets to become a citizen himself because of his mother’s new status. “I wanted to become a citizen for – since I was little,” he said through tears. “And now today’s the day I actually became one.”