Thirty-four people became US citizens in a naturalization ceremony held in Juneau, Alaska, according to the Juneau Empire.
The new citizens were born in a variety of countries, such as Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Spain and Ukraine. U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Longenbaugh presided over the ceremony, where she spoke of how America is bound together by shared love of liberty and the shared value that all people are created equally.
“Being an American is not just a cultural tradition. It is a fundamental promise of our democracy. Our Constitution does not limit citizenship by background or birth,” Longenbaugh said, according to the newspaper.
State Senator Dennis Egan also addressed the crowd, reported the media outlet, which said he spoke of how his own family immigrated from Ireland to the US in 1898.
Noel and Della Mariano, a couple married more than 40 years ago in the Philippines told the source that becoming US citizens is something they have dreamed of.
“It is part of my American dream,” Noel said. “[Everyone] is free to live, to do your own thing, and you have every opportunity to be what you are.”
Hundreds of thousands of people are naturalized in the US each year. The Department of Homeland Security reports that 743,715 people were naturalized in 2009, a majority of whom were originally from Mexico, India, the Philippines, China and Vietnam.