LAWRENCE, Kan. (KSNT) – Becoming a citizen of the United States is not an easy process. It can take years before a person reaches the final step, the naturalization ceremony. More than 300 people reached that final step at the Lied Center on Wednesday and are now officially U.S. citizens.
Jay Jobe is an immigrant from Gambia, a small west African country. Jay says she wanted to become a citizen so she could be with her siblings and husband in America.
Jay says the process to become a citizen was very stressful and difficult but worth it.
“After the interview, you are more calm,” said Jay.
She encourages other immigrants, like herself, to get their citizenship.
“It’s better that you come in the right way so that you will have a work permit to work and enjoy the U.S.,” added Jay.
Victor Douglas and his wife Hilda are originally from Jordan but they immigrated to the U.S. and went through the long process to become citizens. Victor says he wanted to gain the rights and freedoms that are given to all Americans.
“The right to vote, to participate in the country, build the country,” said Victor. “The diversity of people coming from all over the world helps the United States to be the greatest nation on earth.”
Victor and Hilda’s son became a U.S. citizen on Wednesday. He’s the last person in the family to gain citizenship.
The process took him 7 years to complete. Victor says it’s a happy day for the family.
“We are going to celebrate this day! Champagne and a good meal. A good dinner,” he said.
Members of the League of Women Voters of Kansas were on hand to help the new citizens exercise their newfound rights by registering to vote.
“That is their ultimate duty and civic responsibility as citizens, to vote in every election and be informed voters,” said Cille King, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Kansas.
Cille says new citizens are eager to register.
“People are really excited to vote and occasionally we get people who say, ‘I became a citizen because I want to vote and have a voice in our democracy’,” said Cille.