Lincoln welcomes 24 new Americans in naturalization ceremony

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – New Americans from several countries were naturalized Friday at the Robert V. Denney Federal Building.

U.S. District Judge John M. Gerrard presided over the ceremony.

Maria Beltran was one of the new citizens.

She came to the United States from Guatemala 27 years ago, looking for a better future for her children.

She wanted them to have the life she couldn’t have when she was growing up.

“This country changed my life, to me and to my kids,” she said.

Maria’s daughter, Daisy Beltran, was born in the U.S. and said she is grateful for what her mother went through.

She has graduated from high school and college and said it was heartbreaking going to Guatemala and seeing the conditions her mother lived in.

“Just the opportunity of free education and being able to go to school and just completing high school,” Daisy said. “I know with my parents, they weren’t able to do that because in Guatemala, you have to pay for those opportunities.”

Twenty-three other people became American citizens today.

They came to our state from countries like Sudan, Mexico, Iraq, Cuba, Burma, Iran, Eritrea and Vietnam — all with their own stories.

Ertem Birvci, originally from Iraq, has been living in Nebraska for 12 years.

He started with nothing but is now a business owner.

“I started from zero,” he said. “When I came here, I had only $1 in my pocket, but now I have business.”

Another new citizen, Blanca Heredia, had her whole family with her during this important moment.

“I feel like free,” she said. “I feel like a different person. I do not know why, but I’m happy.”

Heredia was a legal resident here for over 30 years. She said she is proud to be part of this country, which her husband and son served in the military.

To become a U.S. citizen, you have to study American history and the U.S. Constitution and must go through background checks and interviews.

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