New U.S. Citizens Realize Their Dream in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- It's the dream of thousands of people every year, who come to the United States looking for a fresh start. That dream came true to 60 new United States Citizens on August 5, 2005. The immigrants were sworn in at the Federal Courthouse.

"This is a great day in these people's lives and really in the life of America. Where people come to this country. They go through the process and become naturalized citizens. We're proud of them and I must tell you I had to choke back a tear when they said that pledge of allegiance for the first time that was really special," says Senator Mark Pryor.

It's taken years for some of these immigrants to become U.S. citizens. They’ve had to sift through mounds of paperwork, endless delays, intensive studying, and finally, pass the American citizenship test.

"We need to do a lot better in terms of tracking people. It should be more electronic and less paper intensive and there are a lot of bureaucratic issues with it in addition to some major policy decisions that we need to make," says Sen. Pryor.

But for those like Magarita Orton, the hassle was well worth it.

Orton came to the U.S. in 1996 with a plan to become a U.S. citizen and live the American dream with her husband, Billy. But part of that plan was cut short when Orton's husband was killed in Iraq last year while serving with Arkansas' 39th Brigade.

"He wanted one day I just get all the paperwork and get together and be able to be a U.S. citizen, and he would be so proud and so excited about it already. The date yesterday was our wedding anniversary," Orton says.

And then there are people like Lizbeth Valderrabano who received her citizenship in December. Friday she stood with the color guard watching others achieve their American dream.

"This country has given me a lot. From education to opportunities and there's a lot of things out there unfortunately in other countries that we don't have," Valderrabano says.

These new citizens will now go on to vote, to serve on juries, and will have all the rights granted to Americans by our Constitution.

"I'm a devoted American even if I never have the citizenship, but now I got it," Orton says.

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January 19, 2018, 11:23 pm
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