SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Senator Mitt Romney was among the first to greet more than 60 new citizens at a naturalization ceremony.
Participants are looking forward to a new beginning as immigration laws remain a divisive issue in our country.
The ceremony was held at the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan, Utah.
It’s the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice.
Gina Percival came from Colombia about four years ago.
“I’m very proud of the U.S. as a whole because it’s a great nation. It defends all the principles I have been raised for. I am all for freedom, democracy, people’s rights,” said Percival.
She’s one of 62 new Americans from 32 countries to take the Oath of Allegiance at the ceremony.
“People who are legal permanent residents can apply for naturalization, generally, after they’ve lived here as legal permanent residents for five years, they have to be of good moral character, pass a naturalization examination,” said Laura McNeer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Senator Romney addressed the new citizens.
He says he was thinking of situations across the globe where freedom is under attack.
“There’s a battle, constantly, to defend our rights to free lives, and liberty and America really leads that fight. I’m proud to see this number of people swear allegiance to the country, and swear their willingness to defend the Constitution,” said Romney, (R -Utah).
The senator says he welcomes the nearly 1,000,000 immigrants who come here legally every year, but illegal immigration is a real problem.
He says Congress needs to act on asylum laws, Dreamers and he’d like to see a merit-based system in place.
“We need to have a grand compromise and finally get our immigration system nailed down, because it’s a mess right now, it’s just an awful mess for so many people and I think it’s a black eye for our country to see what’s going on at the Southern Border,” said Romney.
Percival is mindful of that and has mixed emotions as she moves to the next chapter.
“It always breaks my heart to see those stories behind what’s happening at the border, but at the same time, I know there’s rules to be put in place because you can not just have everybody coming at the same time,” she said.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is expecting 5,000 people to go through the naturalization process this year in our state.
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