Naturalization ceremony welcomes 64 new U.S. citizens

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JEFFERSON CITY - Dozens gathered at the Missouri National Guard Headquarters on Monday to watch their family and friends become United States citizens. 

64 people from more than 30 different countries - including Guatemala, South Korea, United Kingdom, Romania, Burma, India, Nigeria, and Kenya - recited the Oath of Allegiance to officially gain United States citizenship.

The new citizens had to go through the naturalization process, which includes a written English test, a 100-question civics test, a series of interviews and a biometrics verification. 

Emma Ball, one of those gaining her citizenship, moved from El Salvador to the United States when she was 4 years old.

"I think we all come here for a different reason," she said. 

Ball said her family moved because it was dangerous back home.

"The life that I have now, I owe it to my mom," she said.

Mayor of Jefferson City Carrie Tergin was there to welcome the new U.S. citizens.

"It is something that I do take very personal with my grandfather coming to this country as a young boy from Greece," she said. 

Tergin said her grandfather came to the United States with nothing.

"He always talked about how America is the best country on Earth," she said. "I grew up hearing that from him and understanding what that meant to really appreciate being here in this country, and how great it is."

Ball said it was important for her to hear from officials who held the ceremony about their heritage.

"Somebody in their family immigrated to the United States," she said. "And they look back at their family, they know that someone has come here from somewhere else."

Ball said this might help with the immigration crisis the country has.

"I don't think that there is one solution," she said. "I think that unless you've been through it, or know someone or anything like that, you don't actually get it."

Naturalization ceremonies are held twice a year in Jefferson City, one in the fall and one in the spring. A state employee said that number increased due to a higher interest from applicants. 

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