Welcoming New Citizens to the United States

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - For immigrants who have been living legally in Western Colorado for several years, Wednesday was a very special day.

Inside these doors, lies the fate of many who are on on their path to citizenship.

"It's maybe the most important day of my life," said Haishan Lu, who had just received his citizenship.

Some of these immigrants had been waiting as long as 10 to 20 years. Though no one said the ride would be easy, they can agree it was well worth it.

"It's very exciting," said Lu. 

"They come in illegally and then they have to go through the process of getting their permanent resident cards. After three to five years, they can then take a naturalization test," said Immigration Services Officer Courtney Patterson.

If they pass the test successfully, they are then able to become United States citizens. However, the test isn't as easy as it may sound.

"Normally, it's a three phase test with reading, writing, and then a US history civics test," said Patterson.

Though it can be challenging for some, they said if you're on your way to becoming a citizen, you shouldn't be discouraged.

"Obviously there's a language barrier, but even with that a lot of people have interpreters from all over the world," said Patterson.

Once they overcome those obstacles, they said the reward is unlike any other.

"I've gone to 30 or 40 of these and it's always exciting. I always get a new pride in my country," said Sheryl Fitzgerald with Daughters of the American Revolution.

"I love this country. I think they have much better opportunities," said Lu.

For these brand new citizens, the opportunities are limitless.

The Grand Junction Courthouse hosts these naturalization ceremonies every month. They're open to the public, so they encourage anyone to come down and experience it for themselves.

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