Over 100 'very proud' Will, DuPage County residents become US citizens in Joliet ceremony

Leah Hope Image
Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Over 100 become US citizens in Joliet ceremony: 'very proud'
Over 100 Will and DuPage County residents became US citizens in a ceremony put on by Lauren Underwood at the Joliet Rialto Square Theatre Thursday.

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- It is a long and sometimes difficult process, but, as of Tuesday, over 100 people can now call themselves U.S. citizens.

The big show at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet Tuesday was made up of new American citizens.

One hundred and one Will and DuPage County residents took the oath of allegiance at a special ceremony hosted by Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and organized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Victor Gonzalez is among the new citizens.

"I feel very, very good; I've been waiting for 20-25 years for my residency. Now, I enjoy it. I need it," Gonzalez said.

Health complications made his process even more difficult, but he did it for his family to witness. His wife, children and grandson are U.S. citizens.

SEE ALSO: 'It's awesome': Nearly 1,000 new US citizens welcomed at Wrigley Field

"Honestly, it got me a little emotional; I tried not to tear up. I'm very proud of him, always," his daughter Marisol Gonzalez said.

Another couple came to the U.S. eight years ago from India. Now, their young family has begun a new chapter as American citizens.

"It's an amazing feeling; it just feels great to everybody in the family be U.S. citizens," Ali Lokhandwala said.

Zeina Akhras said she and her family have been separated at times in different countries. They've been away from their native country, Syria, for years, but now live in the western suburbs. Mother and son both became U.S. citizens.

"Safe with democracy, with free, with better life, everything I think here in America," Akhras said.

Usually, naturalization ceremonies happen at the federal courthouse in Chicago. Tuesday's ceremony was special. Look for another one at Wrigley Field this summer.

"It was a very hard journey, but finally we achieve it," Abdul Ahdab said.