KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro man says he's ready to officially make Kansas City, and the United States, his home. While controversy surrounds illegal immigrants in our country, every day thousands of legal immigrants become American citizens.
Cameras are not usually allowed inside of the federal courthouse in downtown Kansas City, but FOX 4 was granted special access on Thursday to tell the story of a man who has been waiting for almost half of his life to become an American citizen.
"So I have to surrender my green card for the citizenship, so I am ready," Marizio Orlando told FOX 4.
It was a day that Orlando has been working towards for the past two decades.
"I woke up this morning and I said to myself today is the day. I don't know how many times in the past 20 years I said, I wish, I hope," he said.
"I am going to be and American once I come back."
Orlando entered the federal courthouse as a citizen of Italy, where he dreamt of a distant land.
"I wanted to be in this country since I was a little kid. For whatever reason, I don't know if it was the television, I don't know if it was the books, that I was reading at the time, I just wanted to be here," Orlando explained.
It was a long road to citizenship for Orlando, with disappointments along the way.
"You live in limbo for a very, very long time," he described.
Years ago his Italian passport was held by the U.S. government for over a year after 9/11, and paperwork challenges delayed this day for years.
"So that was probably the time when I said, you know what? Is this worth it? But then, you know, it is stronger, that desire of being in a place where you really want to be."
So after 20 long years, swearing allegiance to the United States of America and pledging to the flag, Orlando and about 180 other immigrants from over 30 countries became Americans.
"It's a great joy, it's a great joy and it is difficult to express these feelings with words," Orlando said.
Orlando was always in the United States legally, and while he did not want to get political on this day, Orlando does understand the struggles of illegal immigrants and believes the path to citizenship should be easier.