Freshwoman Irene Florez, a Colombian citizen by birth, moved to the United States when she was six, and has lived here since.
Several years ago, Florez’s mother remarried a natural-born U.S. citizen, before the administration changed the immigration laws, which gave Florez, her mother, and her younger sister the opportunity to become citizens.
“It was the next step after the permanent residence, and there is no way of guaranteeing that the next administration won’t change things,” Florez said. “I would like to obtain a dual citizenship, but I haven’t looked into it.”
The decision was hard to make, but there were advantages to getting citizenship, including financial aid for school, Florez said. “There were lots of outside scholarships I couldn’t apply for my senior year because of an [INS] mistake.”
But the advantages of citizenship didn’t make it any easier to pledge allegiance to only the United States during the ceremony.
“You have to swear to an oath that says you pledge allegiance to only the United States, and that you terminate all other prior allegiances,” she said. “I did it, but especially after Sept. 11, it was difficult.”