Path to US Citizenship hard, but rewarding

World Today

It’s one of the high points of American immigrants’ lives: the day they take the oath of allegiance and become a U.S. citizen.

CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports. 

Says one new citizen: “It means a lot to me. I’m really excited and emotional.”

Says another, “Excited and happy because I could be with my family here.”

51 citizenship candidates from 23 countries gathered in Denver for this naturalization ceremony.

Jeremy Haefner Chancellor of the University of Denver said, “It is a moment that we celebrate as a nation the community of who we are as citizens… The immigrant experience is the American experience.”

To become a citizen, an applicant must be 18 years or older, have resided in the U.S. for at least five years, be of good moral character and be conversant in English, among other things.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS, more than seven million people have become citizens in the past decade. But a recent study claims that process has been far from smooth over the past few years

Alvina Earnhart helped prepare the report for the commission. It found that from 2016 to early 2019, wait times for green card holders doubled to 10 months nationally, contributing to a backlog of 700,000 naturalization applications.

Earnhart said, “There’s no specific factor that we could attribute it to as the cause. It’s not really a partisan issue, it’s definitely an issue that needs to be addressed.”

Naturalization applications always rise before an election, which Earnhart says makes delays for would-be citizens before the 2020 vote a particular concern.

She said, “They want to be engaged. They want to have a right to have their voices heard.”

Those we spoke with said their journeys to become a U.S. citizen had been long

Lihua Cao, one new citizen told us, “I came here like ’97 so 21 years now.”

But that their applications had been turned around fairly quickly. And USCIS says the rate of applications processed

And oaths taken has gone up lately. There’s plenty of time for these new citizens to exercise their right to vote next year.

Frederick Mayer from the Korbel School of International Studies says to us, “My wish for you is that yours will be another great American story, a story of triumph over hardship, a story of perseverance and honor, a story your children and grandchildren will tell with pride.”

These new Americans say the benefits of citizenship and the stability it offers make these naturalization certificates more than worth the wait.