Naturalization ceremony welcomes 23 new U.S. citizens - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Naturalization ceremony welcomes 23 new U.S. citizens

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HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

Twenty-three people are now legal citizens of the United States.

A naturalization ceremony, Tuesday morning, was the final step. Men and women from all over Mississippi, who've spent years working toward this dream can now call it a reality.

As the William Carey University Men's Quartet sang "American the Beautiful," the ceremony Chile native, Rodrigo Flores has been waiting for finally arrived.

"This is a great nation to be a part of. It's pretty much an honor," said Flores.

In front of friends and family Flores and 22 others took their Oath of Allegiance, and received his certificate.

 Flores has been in the U.S. for 13 years. He resides in Brandon, Mississippi, and earns a living as a police canine trainer. Now that his dream of being a U.S. citizens is fulfilled he can only hope this country will give his son the same great opportunities.

"That is what he deserves. It's a great country. He can be whomever he wants to be," said Flores.

The sentiment is shared by 18-year-old, new mom Andrea Bencomo, native of Venezuela, for herself and her son.

"I wanted to become a citizen, because U.S. citizens have so many opportunities, and I just wanted to be part of this country and feel more at home," said Bencomo.

Both Bencomo and Flores recall the process to citizenship being as a long journey.

"Years of waiting, because you have to be 18 to apply, and, of course, after you apply you have to wait so long to get it approved. We studied 100 questions and out of 100 questions we only got asked ten, so it was a lot," said Bencomo.

"A lot of paper work. A lot of appointments, visits to immigration officers. It took me about six or seven years," said Flores.

The waiting game isn't over. They have to wait four more years to exercise and important right.

"not this time, but I will make sure I can vote next time."

"well, I kind of hate that I didn't get to vote, because that is a very important thing, but I know in the next four years I will definitely get the chance to vote."

until then, Bencomo has something that will keep her busy for the next four years.

"I'm attending ole miss. I majoring in nursing. I plan to become an RN-, and hopefully maybe a nurse practitioner.