50 Service Members Sworn in on Midway as Newest U.S. Citizens: ‘It’s a Dream’

July 14, 2023

Congressman Peters found it so special to join 50 servicemembers as they became U.S. citizens just before Independence Day. These brave men and women came from all over the world to call this country home. He thanks them for serving our nation and enriching our communities.

Read more about it in this July 3rd piece from Times of San Diego, posted below:

50 Service Members Sworn in on Midway as Newest U.S. Citizens: ‘It’s a Dream’

By Chris Stone

July 3, 2023

Angeli Regmi, a U.S. Navy seaman, comes from Nepal, where people travel to reach the heights of Mount Everest. On Monday in San Diego, Regmi reached her own mountain top — becoming a U.S. citizen.

“It’s a dream,” Regmi said after a military naturalization ceremony aboard the USS Midway Museum.

“I came from a small country and want to achieve a lot of things, like you become the citizen of the United States, the greatest country in the world, and a lot of doors open for you to do a lot of opportunities.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is celebrating Independence Day with more than 5,500 new citizens being sworn in at more than 180 military naturalization services across the nation between June 30 and July 7.

By virtue of their military service, members become eligible for citizenship.

Fifty men and women who enlisted in one of the branches of the military completed their immigration process on the Midway. Thirty countries were represented at the morning ceremony.

‘Not only did you choose to call this country home,” said U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, “your allegiance took you a step further to serve our country and now you get to celebrate aboard the longest serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century.

The San Diego congressman continued: “Today’s ceremony indicates once again that the American way wouldn’t be what it is without the arrival of immigrants — those who left everything behind to start anew in this land of opportunities, those who grew our innovative spirit.”

Speakers noted how the new citizens chose to serve America before they achieved citizenship.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents a district in Los Angeles, joined Peters in praise of the service members.

Schiff mentioned the differences in language and culture among the military members but noted, “You have one thing in common. You came to this country in search of a better future and you put your lives on the line to ensure that future — not just for yourself, but for your family and for millions of Americans who are safer because of your service.”

“You enrich our communities, our neighborhoods and our workplaces,” Schiff added.

U.S. District Judge Andrew G. Schopler, who presided over the oath portion of the ceremony, said: “If my father and his family had not undertaken the risks and sacrifices that many of you know so well, I would not be here today.”

Schopler also pointed out his military connection. When not wearing his robe, he wears a U.S. Army uniform in the California National Guard, he said.

Marine Corps reeserve Col. John P. Valencia, a Homeland Security professional, said the fact that the new citizens served in the military before applying “is a testament to your character and to your nature, to your virtue. And that makes you truly exceptional.”

The new citizens came from Belarus, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Micronesia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Korea, St. Lucia, Tonga, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.

After the ceremony, John Benes, a Marine lance corporal, said becoming a citizen is a lifelong dream come true.

“It’s a big honor,” he said. “There’s nothing in the world that can replace it, and I’ll carry it with me for the rest of my life.”

Said Hai Yu, a Navy Hospital corpsman originally from China: “Becoming a citizen means a lot … I can get freedom, right?”

“Those brave men and women who dedicate their life to serve this country and their dedication and sacrifice inspires me every day,” he added. “So I feel like such an honor to join the same rank with them — to become a citizen.”

Ruth Ndichu, a Navy Corpsman originally from Kenya, said her naturalization process took two years. Now that she is a citizen, “I can do everything that you guys do.”

Serving this country, being a loyal citizen and traveling are what she looks forward to.

Retired Navy Cmdr. David Koontz, the USS Midway Museum director of marketing, told the military members: “You get a chance to have your voice heard in many different ways, and I strongly recommend that you let your voice be heard.”

After the ceremony, Schiff told Times of San Diego: “It’s so moving to see people from all over the world join the armed forces, become citizens and further enrich this country and help defend this country.

“It’s wonderful,” said the Democratic congressman running for U.S. Senate. “It’s inspiration. It’s fun to be part of the joy they are experiencing and taking the oath of citizenship. It’s a real treat.”

Schiff said he decided to attend the ceremony after hearing about it from Peters.

In fiscal 2022, USCIS welcomed 974,000 new U.S. citizens. So far in fiscal 2023, it has welcomed 588,900 new U.S. citizens as of June 7.

Those interested in becoming citizens can go to www.uscis.gov.



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