Nearly 1200 people were sworn in Thursday as U.S. Citizens in Austin. Some have been here for decades, and this will be the first time they will have the option to take advantage of the American freedoms.
The freedom to vote is something many Americans don't take advantage of. According to Census Data in the 2012 Presidential Election only about half of eligible U.S. Citizens voted. But for some new citizens, just having the option to vote was something they thought may never happen.
For Rosa Lopez becoming a U.S. Citizen was a dream she wasn't sure would ever become a reality. "It was pretty hard, uncertainty was a very big thing," she said. But there's no uncertainty for her anymore, "I got sworn in as a new U.S. Citizen. It's like the final thing, the last step in this chapter that I can finally lay to rest and the rest of my family will never have to go through this again," she said. Lopez is originally from Mexico and was among the 1,180 people sworn in Thursday as new U.S. Citizens from 92 different countries. The swearing in ceremony was held at the Delco Center.
Anita Rios Moore works for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service as a Public Information Officer, "Becoming a U.S. Citizen is a big step, it's an important step, and it's a personal step for each individual, everyone does it for different reasons. Many do it because they want the freedoms, the freedoms of choice, the freedom to vote," she said. The freedom to vote is something that is very important being a presidential election year. "For all U.S. Citizens, including these new U.S. Citizens, voting is one of the greatest benefits for an American. We are hoping that each one of these individuals does take the opportunity to register to vote," Moore said.
Lopez said she wasn't sure she'd be able to vote, so she wanted to be more informed. "I think America is in between two very separate ways. I think it's important for everybody to be educated on that type of subject." But she likes having the option, "It's my choice, that I chose this, it's like a step you take nobody else is forcing you, nobody else is going to have a voice for you, it's my own voice and I found it," she said. Lopez may not be sure about her choice yet come November, but she is sure about her decision of becoming an American. "I'm very grateful, and I hope a lot of people get to be in that position, because I could have very easily been one of the dreamers not being able to fulfill my dreams," she said.
Video & pictures courtesy: USCIS