CHARLESTON, W.Va. –More than 60 individuals from southern West Virginia have realized their dreams of becoming a United States citizen.
As part of U.S. Constitution Week, hundreds of naturalization ceremonies are taking place this week like the one at the Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse in downtown Charleston on Monday.
“I can’t explain this. I am so excited,” Ruben Lopez Medellin, a new U.S. citizen originally from Mexico City, Mexico told MetroNews.
“This country has given to me many opportunities. This is a special day for me.”
Medellin, who currently lives in Greenbrier County, said one of the opportunities was meeting his wife. He said they now have two children and are living happily.
Following the Oath of Allegiance by Applicants in front of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Thomas E. Johnston and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, new U.S. citizen Diana Lucia Clay gave a speech to the 61 new citizens.
Clay, originally from Colombia, told the crowd that America is where dreams are made.
“There is a great opportunity for us because we can reach our goal if we work hard,” she said. “I am not lying, I think everybody knows that America opens the door for people who fight and work.”
“Here in America, if you work hard it pays off. Don’t give up and keep dreaming because we can do it.”
Clay said her husband and son have helped her through the long and sometimes tough process of becoming a citizen. For Medellin, he said it took him years following his marriage to an American.
A naturalization test must be passed after certain requirements are met including being a permanent resident for at least five years.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Monday that it will celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by welcoming nearly 34,300 new U.S. citizens during 316 naturalization ceremonies across the nation between September 13 and 23.
In 2004, the late Senator Byrd helped establish the Constitution Day Holiday.