200 kids become U.S. citizens

January 2, 2008 10:00:00 PM PST
Two hundred Chicago-area children are celebrating something very special that most American children are born into - U.S. citizenship. If you come from another country, it can be a very long process. Even for the kids.

They gathered at the U.S. citizenship and immigration office south of the Loop. Hundreds of children and their parents and relatives were there. Their faces tell the story of different countries of origin, 40 different countries in all. And on Thursday, for those children, it's time to receive their certificates of citizenship.

"I get to be an American, because this is my country and where I'm going to be living for the rest of my life," said Adrianne Bruce, 16-year-old native of Mexico.

"I'm going to hang it up on my wall," said Aaron Amofa, Ghana.

This is, in a sense, an unusual naturalization ceremony. And that's because these children, from babies to age 18, are already U.S. citizens. This just makes it official. These new, young citizens were all born in other countries. Their parents brought them here to the U.S. And then the parents became citizens. But until six years ago, that didn't automatically make the kids citizens.

"Before 2001, these children could not become citizens. They had to wait to become adults, take the test, study for the test and go through the entire process of becoming a citizen as their parents did," said Marilou Cabrera, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

But now it's the law. The foreign-born parents become citizens and the kids get that life-changing certificate.

"It helped me, I'll get more money for scholarships, and it will help with the long run and getting jobs. I'm really proud that I got this today," said Jennifer Osagie, from Nigeria.

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