Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Richard Piatt ReportingThe state of Utah has 193 new US citizens tonight. They are all immigrants who swore an allegiance to this country at a special ceremony today.
In an age where the word 'immigrant' sparks people to think 'illegal immigrant', this story is a switch. In fact, each of these naturalized US citizens have compelling, emotional stories about what brought them to this country.
You can see it on their faces, this final bureaucratic step to citizenship is full of emotion too, and for good reason. From 53 countries they've come, 193 people, 193 stories. Like the 82-year old man who fled Nazi Germany, jumping from a moving train to escape.
Meindert Nipperus, New American Citizen: "I told them we had to get out because that was the only place. Jumped out. We got the door open, and I was the only one who jumped."
Another man sought asylum from Sudan, a nation ripped by civil war. Others started their lives over, left family just to be here.
"I don't have family here. But now I have all of you, family. I love the United States. Love it."
Recently the process to citizenship has been overshadowed by growing numbers of illegal immigrants. 'Minutemen' take to the Mexican border, frustrated by the influx. One man here explains: There is a mix of fear and ignorance keeping people from taking the proper steps.
Jorge Alberto Sanchez, New American Citizen: "Many may not have all the information required to do so. Others may not have the means. It's not an easy thing; it's a difficult process."
Immigration officials defend the system.
Mario Ortiz, US. Citizenship and Immigration Services: "I'm not sure there's a problem with legal immigration. It's a process that's alive and well."
Regardless, the common thread with these immigrants is the quest for a better life, and for some, it's a lifelong pursuit.