Rubén Cantú-Rodríguez/Conexión Del Río

DEL RIO – One-hundred-five flags waived uniformly under the roof of a court-turned Del Rio Civic Center on Friday morning, August 19, 2016, as the same number of people were taking the Oath of Allegiance and embracing the US citizenship, in a ceremony presided by US Magistrate Judge, Victor Roberto Garcia.

The ceremony was led by Immigration and Naturalization Service Senior Officer, David Juarez.

“Officer Juarez,” asked Judge Garcia “are you satisfied yourself with all the petitioners that are now in court, and all the petitioners present comply with all regulations… are you satisfied with all the petitioners are entitled to be granted the United States citizenship?” Judge Garcia asked.

Officer Juarez responded with a plain “yes they are your honor,” and all those in attendance as well as their families sighed in relief, as they were witnessing how a dream was coming true.

Fifteen countries were represented in the ceremony, with the nationalities of those becoming US citizens listed as follows: India – 3, Honduras – 1, Spain – 2, United Emirates – 1, Philippines – 4, Thailand – 1, El Salvador – 1, Sudan – 1, Kenya – 1, Dominican Republic – 1, Germany – 1, Pakistan – 2, Iraq – 1, Turkey – 1, and Mexico – 84.

Some of the new US citizens were residents of this area, but many more came from distant places such as San Antonio and Austin.

Johnson Mitu, a registered nurse and an immigrant from Kenya, said the ceremony in Del Rio was better for him because of the timing and the smaller venue, since in those big cities attendance reaches up to 1,200 new citizens taking the oath of allegiance at once.

“I like it here, it was better for me, my kids and my wife were here with me,” said Mitu.

Assistant Federal Public Defender, Joseph Cordova, a second generation American, was the guest speaker and reminded everyone of the great blessing it is to hold the US citizenship.

As the grandson of immigrants from Allende, Coahuila, Mexico, Cordova said that his grandparents told stories of how they struggled trying to move to Lockhart, Texas, but they didn’t make it past La Pryor, where they settled and started a new life gathering firewood and nopales.

“They taught me of the value of being a U.S. citizen.”

Cordova also encouraged everyone to exercise their right to vote, one of the most important privileges they earn by becoming US citizens.

A voter registration desk was set up on site by volunteers Lupita de la Paz and Angel Ramirez.