Newly Naturalized Citizens Describe Journey

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

HARRISONBURG -- Monday was a very special day for some families in our area. Nearly 50 people from six different continents became citizens.

The wait is now over for Hugo Mejia to become an American.

"I felt like I was another person that came from South America here, but now I feel like I belong," said Mejia.

Mejia came to the United States from Peru when he has 16 and he was just a resident all these years. He said seeing his name on a certificate is a huge accomplishment.

"I've been waiting so long to get through this process and finally getting to do it. It was kind of emotional when I saw it so it's pretty exciting."

It was an exciting day for the families of the 47 new citizens. Hugs, tears and memories of the 22 countries they came from filled the courtroom.

“I had never been out of Zimbabwe before, coming to a complete foreign land with nobody I knew. It was quite impactful because I had to learn how people here talk to each other, how people make friends," said Balladean Mashingaidze, a newly naturalized citizen.

Mashingaidze said he is happy with how far he has come and how far he will go.

"I'm excited to see what's to come, being able to vote, being able to exercise the full rights of an American."

For Mejia, it's about sharing the excitement with those he loves.

“Very excited especially for my family because I think this is gonna conclude a big transition.”

Other people we talked to said coming to the U.S. allowed for many new opportunities. They said becoming a citizen gives them more opportunities.

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