Two naturalization ceremonies held today at Century II welcomed and recognized 175 new U.S. citizens who will be living in Kansas.
The new citizens came to the United States from more than 30 different countries.
Federal Judges Eric Melgren and Judge Robert Nugent swore in the citizens and officiated the ceremonies. Citizenship candidates recited the Oath of Allegiance and received naturalization certificates.
After the ceremony, employees from the United States Postal Service helped people apply for passports. Representatives from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stressed the importance of getting a passport for any sort of out of the country travel.
The League of Women Voters helped the newly sworn-in citizens register to vote. The lobby of Century II was filled with eager people wanting to become first-time voters — like Monica Castrita.
Originally from Mexico — the most-represented country at Tuesday’s ceremony — Castrita said it took her more than 12 years to finish her citizenship applications.
She said she is excited to practice her rights as a U.S. citizen.
"Well, it means I can vote," Castrita said. "That will be my first thing, my first choice, my first 'yay.'"
USCIS says more than 800,000 people were naturalized in the U.S. and around the world in 2019, the highest rate of naturalization in 11 years.
Mya Acosta is an intern in the KMUW News Lab.