20 become citizens on 4th of July

New Americans describe pride, sense of freedom
2013-07-05T00:00:00Z 20 become citizens on 4th of JulyJamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 05, 2013 12:00 am  • 

For Jesus Martinez Ayala and 19 other people gathered at Saguaro National Park-West, Independence Day carried extra significance.

Not only was Ayala and the rest of the group celebrating freedom and the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, but they were celebrating their own independence and freedom as newly minted American citizens.

The new U.S. citizens took the Oath of Allegiance during a special ceremony Thursday at the national park's Red Hills Visitor Center.

The celebration was part of an annual national event held by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. More than 7,800 candidates from around the country will become U.S. citizens by the end of this week.

The 20 new citizens in Tucson came from nine countries: Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, South Korea and United Kingdom.

For Ayala, it was the end of a journey that began two decades ago when he arrived in the U.S. from Mexicali, Mexico.

Ayala, along with two other new citizens, shared their stories after the ceremony:

Jesus Martinez Ayala, 54

When did you start the citizenship process?

Twenty years ago. It wasn't easy for me. I said one day, 'I'm going to get my goal.' So I'm really happy that they were able to open the door for us.

Why was it important for you to become an American citizen?

I want to work for this country, for everybody to be happy and to make this country keep working towards the future. I will do my best.

What does it mean for you to have this ceremony on the Fourth of July?

Really it is a special day for me and for our country. Now, I can say 'my country,' too.

Priscila Ruan, 82

What country did you come from?

Mexico.

When did you start the citizenship process?

Two years ago. It was very hard. There were a lot of documents. I kept the secret from all of my family so I could give them a surprise.

What does it mean to you to have this ceremony on the Fourth of July?

I feel satisfaction because I became a citizen on Independence Day. It's my biggest achievement.

Rayan Hanna, 34

What country did you come from?

Iraq.

When did you start the citizenship process?

About two, three months ago. I studied hard. Like any test, if you study, the test is going to be easy.

Why was it important for you to become an American citizen?

To get some education and a better job.

What does it mean to you to have this ceremony on the Fourth of July?

It means to become free the same way this land became free, the same way the country became free from Great Britain. I feel the same way.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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