SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - 45 Santa Barbara residents will be celebrating the United State's birthday as U.S. Citizens this year.
They were honored by Representative Salud Carbajal at his first inaugural citizenship recognition ceremony held at the Santa Barbara Court Sunken Garden. The residents took their citizenship oath between January 3rd and June of 2017.
"As we look forward to celebrating our nation's Independence Day, I am so proud to honor some of our newest U.S. citizens from the Central Coast," said Rep. Carbajal. "By successfully pursuing their citizenship, these hardworking individuals have joined a proud history of immigrants who strengthen the fabric of our democracy. One of the proudest moments of my life was attaining my U.S. citizenship and it is a privilege to celebrate this achievement with my constituents."
A mother and daughter who has called Santa Barbara "home" for more than 16 years passed their citizenship tests together.
"It's more opportunity for the family and for a better life," said Maria Elena Peralta.
One man says getting his citizenship gave him a feeling that he's never felt before.
"The way that you feel more free to be here as a U.S. Citizen," said Juan Montero.
Becoming a U.S. Citizen can be easier for some people than others. It requires work and studying among other things. Susana Contreras depended on her 10-year-old daughter to help her study and read in English. She's proud of her accomplishment and hopes her journey can inspire others.
"I feel sad for my own people who are the same and are illegal, but I feel happy. I want to say if you work hard, you can get whatever you want even if you're illegal or not," said Susana Contreras.
For more information about becoming a citizen, click here.