50 new citizens detail lengthy, personal naturalization process

Immigrants took oath of citizenship at Free Library

Hadas Kuznits
June 21, 2018 - 3:58 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Jose Coronado came to the U.S. from Mexico seeking a better life.

On Thursday, he was among a group of 50 immigrants who took the oath of citizenship at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

"They don't do much to help the people [in other countries]," Coronado said of his native Mexico, "so that's why all the people from South, Central America come to this country, because we don't have an opportunity to make a good life in our country. That's why we come here."

For Jodi Ann Shelton of Kingston, Jamaica, this day was a long time coming.

"It's surreal because it took so long. I've been here since I was 4," she said. "The process was so long and now I have [citizenship], it's like 'Oh my god, do I really have it or is this just a dream?' "

She said there are rights and freedoms here in America that people from other countries are not granted.

"And now I can go places and be safe and feel comfortable to know that I'm a citizen now," Shelton said.

Their citizenship comes during a tumultuous time, with news circulating about border patrol agents separating immigrant children from their families.

"It's heartbreaking," Shelton added, "because I know the struggles of trying to come here and make a better life for your family, because that's what my mom and my dad did."

Carliene Shellyann LaBatiste of Trinidad and Tobago said it took her one year to get her citizenship — after being a resident for 12. But she feels lucky.

"Everything has so changed within the last year," she noted of immigration policies. "And that's the most that I can say is that things have really declined in the last year."