Road To U.S. Citizenship Ends With Tulsa School Ceremony
TULSA, Oklahoma - As the political debate rages over illegal immigration in the United States, on Wednesday, 40 immigrants from all over the world became American citizens in Tulsa.
They were welcomed to the country at Town and Country School in a moving ceremony.
The immigrants hail from more than 20 different countries and all different walks of life, but as of Wednesday, they all have one thing in common, they're all American citizens.
They took an oath and pledged allegiance, and now the 40 immigrants can call themselves American citizens.
It means Ngai Mang from Burma now has all the same rights as her American-born toddler son.
"I am grateful and I am cheerful. I am happy, so happy," she said.
And after 20 years, since moving here from Mexico, Isabel Ruiz de Prado is now officially naturalized.
"I feel very good. I feel good, yes, I feel like I'm among my friends and family," said Ruiz.
The new citizens are joining the country at a contentious time for immigration, especially undocumented immigration.
It's been nearly a year since President Barack Obama issued an executive order to expand immigrant rights, but states like Texas and Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the order, halting it.
And now several Republican presidential candidates want to take away birthright citizenship, which automatically grants children citizenship where they're born.
But U.S. District Court Judge Lane Wilson, who conducts the ceremonies, said the immigrants at Wednesday’s ceremony earned their citizenship the American way.
"This is my favorite part of being a judge," Wilson said. "They worked very hard to get here, they weren't born here, they weren't citizens by right, so they worked their tails off to get here and become U.S. citizens."
There are 11 of the naturalization ceremonies throughout the Tulsa area every year.