Local News

Dozens become US citizens on Independence Day

Posted July 4, 2011 2:43 p.m. EDT
Updated July 4, 2011 6:43 p.m. EDT

— Twenty-six people had a special reason to celebrate Independence Day at the State Capitol on Monday.

They weren't there for the food, music and flag-waving but to finish their journey to become U.S. citizens.

"It's not easy, but it's worth it because all of America is hard work, and that's why we are here," Berenice Bickerstaff said.

Bickerstaff, a native of Brazil, married a U.S. citizen five years ago and decided that this would be her home. The application process was long and involved, but she said she had a strong desire to be part of this nation's story.

"Many other nations would like to have what we have. We have security, liberty and just have the best way to happiness," she said.

Antonio Arreola, a native of Mexico, made his daughter proud when he took the oath of citizenship.

"I feel really excited for him," Anita Arreola said. "I wanted to cry."

The ceremony in Raleigh was part of the the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services' annual Independence Day celebration. More than 2,000 people nationwide have become citizens in the past week.

With citizenship certificates in hand, Bickerstaff and her fellow new citizens opened a new chapter in their lives Monday and were ready to exercise their new rights.

"I'm excited to be part of this and to vote," Bickerstaff said. "I'm ready to vote (and) really be part of the nation."