By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than 200 immigrants living in Minnesota became the newest citizens of the United States on Wednesday.

For many, it was the end of a long journey.

The naturalization ceremony took place at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

With their right hand over their hearts, a group of hard-working citizens pledged allegiance to a country they can now call home.

They were 65 people from 25 different countries, all with the same dream of becoming U.S. citizens.

“There have been a lot of struggles here and there, the challenge of adapting to a new life and the culture, but we did make it today,” said Jared Unchiri, adding that he’s thought about the day for seven years.

Originally from Kenya, Unchiri and his wife are going to college and working.

“I feel proud that I contribute to the economy and everything, and I feel proud that I will continue to do the same thing henceforth,” Unchiri said.

Family looked on as the oath was given, and no one was prouder than Vietnam veteran Emil Resler.

“She’s kind of like my own daughter,” said Resler, who was there to support his former exchange student, Angie.

“She came when she was 16 years old,” Resler said. “She stayed with us and went to school. We got to go to Brazil when she went back and she came back and went to college and now she became an American citizen.”

Resler says her citizenship is a dream come true for him.

“I know when I was in Vietnam, I said if I make it back I’d host a foreign exchange student to give them a taste of American life, and it went through, she became American,” Resler said.

The newly naturalized citizens were congratulated Wednesday by members of the Women League of Voters.

The organization registered 95 percent of the new citizens.


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