MIAMI (CBSMiami) — With a certificate and a pledge, the United States welcomed dozens of youth from South Florida into the country as new Americans.
Thursday’s citizenship ceremony was held for 50 children, most of whom were teenagers, by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Sharing the proud moment with parents and family, the young Americans are eager for the new opportunities that await them.
“I can get a driver’s license, I can get a job,” said Cuban-born Alfonso Milien, whose family brought him to the country 16 years ago, when he was just two. “I felt like an American the whole time I was here. Since I was raised here, my first language was English.”
But feeling and being a U.S. citizen, he learned as he got older, were two different things.
“The door of opportunity has been opened up for me exponentially,” he said. “Now I can do so many things that I couldn’t as a resident, or just as someone who came to the United States as an immigrant.”
For most, the path to citizenship is an arduous journey.
“I’m really proud of this because I was waiting for that since like two, three years ago,” said 21-year-old Naydira Macea, who can’t wait to show off. “The first thing I’m going to do is get my passport and go back to my country to celebrate.”
Jadda Joseph is just shy of her 12th birthday. She arrived from Haiti at age 9 with a big smile and big dreams.
“Here is a free country, you get to be free,” she said. “And I want to be a singer.”
In this land, only the sky’s the limit.
“I feel like I’m an American right now. Best day of my life.”