NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — They fought for this country, and now they are officially citizens of it.
Aboard the World War II-vintage Battleship Wisconsin, 29 people from 13 different countries, 27 of them in the Navy, one, an Army soldier, and one, an Air Force airman, all became Americans.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Morgan did the honors.
"This is one of the favorite ceremonies that the judges of our court have to perform," he said. "Because today we get to rule in favor of everybody. Usually, we have to rule for somebody and against somebody. But today, everybody wins."
"It's very exciting," said ABH3 Shantea Ferill of Jamaica. "It's been a long time. So I'm excited about being able to open up a lot more opportunities within the military for me."
AN Brian Rivera from the Philippines was excited.
"Yeah, it's pretty good to be a citizen," he said. "There are more privileges and more freedom, I guess."
PS1 Calisia Reidmattis of Jamaica agreed. "That is my main goal.," she said. "I came here, like, to achieve my goals. And I'm so excited for this."
And, they're the lucky ones. They made it.
According to the most recent government data, for the first three months of this year, there were nearly 750,000 applications for citizenship still pending, and during that time, more than 22,000 were denied.
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