Fifteen immigrants celebrate citizenship at Northland ceremony

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KANSAS CITY NORTH, Mo. -- Fifteen immigrants became American citizens Thursday during a ceremony at the new U.S. Citizenship district office in the Northland. The agency is taking on a growing role in our immigration system.

Between 200 and 400 people a month become citizens through the Kansas City district office.

American citizenship is one of the most sought after benefits in the world. On a typical day, our government welcomes 3,200 new citizens to the United States. Thirty-five of them are like Mariano Ortiz in Kansas City. They are already serving their adopted country in the U.S. military. For Ortiz, becoming a legal and lawful citizen has been a lifelong goal.

"I've gotten a better education than I would have in Mexico," Ortiz said. "I can pursue a career further than I would have in Mexico and I have more opportunities here. Like they say, this is the land of opportunity."

Immigration officers in Kansas City conduct about 60 interviews a day with people who are either applying for green cards or want to become naturalized American citizens.

The new office is named for a German immigrant from Missouri who fought in the Civil War and received the Congressional Medal of Honor. It reinforces America's identity as a nation of immigrants.