70 people became United States citizens on Friday. Two naturalization ceremonies were held at the United States District Court in Rock Island.
Abdi Guliye lived through civil war in Somalia and spent nearly 20 years in a refugee camp in Kenya.
“The refugee camp was very hard life,” said Guliye through an interpreter.
So when he received a certificate Friday, making him a naturalized citizen of the United States, he was happy.
“He said he’s very happy, very, very happy to be in America,” said Guliye’s interpreter.
35 others with similar stories from 17 different countries became naturalized citizens at a morning ceremony at the United States District Court in Rock Island.
“If I could’ve done back flips, I would’ve done back flips,” said Laurianne Funey.
“I feel good, I feel comfortable to get my citizenship… now I am happy,” said Yvonne Icitegtse.
“This is a day of true celebration. Everybody’s just so joyous about the occasion and it’s such an exciting thing when everyone becomes a U.S. citizen. We get to witness that important event,” said U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow.
At the ceremony, the candidates read an oath and said the Pledge of Allegiance. In order to become citizens, some of the steps the candidates took included meeting eligibility requirements, completing interviews and background checks, and studying Civics and English. They also had to prove they had a good moral character and had an attachment to The Constitution. All of these steps required a lot of waiting.
“Very tedious, sometimes frustrating,” said Funey.
Frustrating, but well worth it for people like Abdi Guliye, whose family now has opportunities that they never had before.
“Safety, I’m working, children go to school, and some are working,” said Guliye.
Six naturalization ceremonies are held each year in Rock Island. Representatives from Congresswoman Bustos and Senator Durbin’s offices attended Friday’s ceremonies. Candidates could also register to vote.