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Unforgettable Day For Some Central, South Coast Residents As They Officially Become U.S. Citizens

Some Central, South Coast residents take the oath to officially become U.S. citizens during a ceremony in Ventura Tuesday

Those taking oath at Ventura ceremony come from seven countries and four continents.

It’s an unforgettable day for more than a dozen Central and South Coast residents, and their families. As they stand for the national anthem at Channel Islands Harbor, they are part of a ceremony officially making them U.S. citizens.

"Very excting. I'm very thrilled to be here," said Brenda Garcia of Ventura, who is one of the new citizens. "It took me like two and a half years to do this," said Garcia.

She was born in Mexico, and has lived in the United States since she was 14. The now 27-year-old woman is the first in her family to earn citizenship.

The ceremony at Channel Islands National Park headquarters in Ventura is one of hundreds taking part across the country this month.

"It's part of a USCIS initiative for Citizenship Day, and Constitution Week which runs through September 24," said Rob Sanders, who is Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Field Office in the San Fernando Valley. More than 21,000 people are officially becoming citizens at more than 300 ceremonies nationwide.

He says some of the people here have been preparing for this day for years. Sanders says it’s wonderful the pandemic has eased enough where public ceremonies can occur again.

Ethan McKinley is Superintendent of Channel Islands National Park, which is co-hosting the ceremony. "It's hugely significant," said McKinley. "To have new citizens here on the day they become a citizen here in the United States, it's a wonderful feeling."

Many of these new citizens say they have big plans for their lives which U.S. citizenship will help. Garcia says she wants to finish her education, and get a job helping others. She has an undergraduate degree, and wants to get her masters so she can work as a social worker specializing in medical care.

The 14 new citizens going through the ceremony came from seven different countries and four continents. Approximately 625,000 people went though the naturalization process to become U.S. citizens last year.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.