CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As migrants face trouble along the U.S.-Mexico border, about 70 people in Charleston are beginning their lives as American citizens.

The petitioners took there oath of allegiance Monday during a naturalization ceremony at the federal courthouse in Charleston.

Cristian Camarillo, of Mexico, is one of the new citizens. He said he feels for the people who can’t cross the border right now.

“I do feel for everyone trying to get a chance to be here and live a better life over here,” he said.

A caravan of people from Central America reached the U.S. border in San Diego, Calf. Sunday seeking asylum. Border Patrol authorities turned them away saying they were unable to process them because of space issues. Many camped out along the border overnight into Monday.

Camarillo said it’s a long process to become an American citizen. He’s been living in West Virginia for 15 years.

“It feels great after a long journey. I’ve been living here for such a long time,” he said. “It feels good to become a citizen now.”

Mena Marzouk, of Egypt, has been living in the U.S. since 2010. He said the migrants deserve to come to America, but need to work hard once they get here.

“I wish everyone has a chance to come here. If you work hard, you will prove yourself. If you don’t work hard, I’m not sure you will survive here in the states. It’s really tough in the first few years,” he said.

Marzouk said people, like him, come to America to live a better life.

“I was looking for freedom from back home. I was looking for any opportunity to prove myself as a good physician,” he said. “So hopefully it will work.”

The new citizens come from 34 countries including: Egypt, Mexico, Iraq, Syria, Russia, Macedonia, United Kingdom, Bahamas, Philippines, Vietnam, China, Argentina, India, Thailand, Morocco, Canada, Cameroon, Italy, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Romania, Kenya, Nepal, Iran, Honduras, Jamaica, Libya, Sudan, Paraguay, Cuba, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Germany and Belarus.

Representatives with the Kanawha County Clerk’s Office were on hand after Monday’s ceremony to help the new citizens register to vote ahead of the May 8 Primary Election.

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