OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- More than 400 people became U.S. citizens today at a naturalization ceremony at Johnson County Community College. Citizens from 66 different countries were welcomed.
“When I think about all of this I just think about everything my family went through,” says Gabriel Garay.
Gabriel Garay, 24, is from Bolivia. He came to America when he was six.
“My family adopted me, they just made a lot of sacrifices,” Garay said. “I'm very happy, but it's more of a relief than anything.”
He was one of hundreds of people at Wednesday morning's naturalization ceremony at Johnson County Community College.
“Today especially, I think about what's next, and the opportunity that I have now to raise a family here, and them having a better opportunity to do what they want in life,” Garay said.
There were speeches and fanfare, and and a special message from President Trump.
“Congratulations from one American to another,” said Dr. Joseph Sopcich, the fifth president of JCCC, while he was speaking on stage.
“It's a blessing in so many ways. It's freedom,” Garay said.
Each person pledged the Oath of Allegiance, something that holds great meaning to those who have been waiting for this moment.
“There's so much that comes with that oath, and being able to serve your country whenever needed. It's a responsibility, I was trying to really understand every word of how much of a responsibility it is,” Garay added.
“You bring with you many diverse talents, experiences, culture, and hope for the future, but today you also join us, as fellow citizens of our country, and our forefathers, in the continuing challenge to make the United States a better place,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Teresa J. James, District of Kansas, who presided over the ceremony.
All of these new American citizens now have almost all the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities that those who were born here have, including the right to vote.