Hundreds take oaths of U.S. citizenship

BROWNSVILLE — About 200 people took oaths of citizenship and became United States citizens yesterday morning at the Texas Southmost College Fine Arts Center in Brownsville.

The new citizens are natives of 19 different countries, which include Argentina, Mexico, Honduras, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, Vietnam and the United Kingdom.

Each new citizen was presented with a small American flag, and all cited the Pledge of the Allegiance, with smiles on their faces.

Originally from Israel, Mohammed Omer was one of the many in the crowd to become an American citizen. Omer came to the United States in August 2006 to work on his masters of law degree at Saint Louis University in St. Louis.

“I cannot describe how I feel right now,” Omer said. “I’m very happy to be a U.S. citizen and part of this amazing country.”

The posting of the colors was conducted by the Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol Honor Guard and the Brownsville Office of Field Operations Honor Guard.

The national anthem was performed by TSC Student Leadership Academy graduate Yahaira Guerra.

TSC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Adela Garza and President Jesus Roberto Rodriguez joined U.S. District Judges Andrew S. Hanen and Rolando Olvera and Magistrate Judge Ignacio Torteya III in welcoming the newly naturalized citizens.

“Today was a special day for many of these people. They worked hard to become citizens, and it was such a pleasure to have them here at home at our Arts Center,” Garza said.

Norma Limon, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office director, was the guest speaker at the naturalization ceremony and spoke about her journey to becoming an American citizen in 1999.

Born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Limon earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College and got a master’s degree in project management from the Keller Graduate School of Management.

“It is a challenge. You have to go through the process,” Limon said. “If you don’t know how to speak English, study. Study hard. There are community-based organizations here in the Valley that teach people how to speak English (and) how to take the test and educate them in the process.”