More than an oath: Thousands to become U.S. citizens in Houston naturalization ceremony

HOUSTON – Thousands of people became U.S. citizens Wednesday morning in a naturalization ceremony in Aldine.

“It is very important for me to become a U.S. citizen, not only for my future but for my daughter’s future, as well,” said Ana Morales.

Before sunlight, Morales and many others lined up outside the M.O. Campbell Center waiting in anticipation.

During the ceremony, more than 2,100 people from 114 different nations raised their right hands, took an oath and officially became citizens of the U.S.

Some in the crowd had made sacrifices for this country before even becoming citizens.

Ruben Ndungu, from Kenya, served in the U.S. Army.

“I always had a dream to serve in the military, and when I got the chance to come up here, I thought about it and I went for it,” said Ndungu. “To move from one country to another and become or get accepted and become a citizen in that country, means a lot.”

Former soldier Luis Alvarez immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico 18 years ago.

“My parents immigrated here from Mexico, so I always felt very appreciative for the country for letting us in,” said Alvarez. “This is a very emotional experience for me. I’ve been wanting this for a long time now and I’m really happy it’s finally happening.”

Omar Qasim, from Iraq, wants to be an officer in the U.S. Air Force.

“I’ve been waiting for that for almost six years. Finally it’s come true,” said Qasim. “If you travel anywhere and you have a citizenship from the U.S., and on top of that, you have a degree, that’s a huge opportunity and you can go work anywhere.”

Qasim's brother, Alo Baidi was by his side. Baidi became a citizen 14 years ago.

“I came into the center, I came as a person, I left as a different person,” said Baidi.

Baidi, who served in the U.S. Army and is now a deputy constable in Harris County, had one piece of advice for his brother.

“Act accordingly. You become a United States citizen, that’s No. 1 citizenship in the entire world,” said Baidi.

After the ceremony, many people also registered to vote.

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