SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Thirty-five people became U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony Wednesday afternoon in Shreveport.
The new citizens hail from 18 countries: Bangladesh, Belize, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Honduras, India, Israel, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Vietnam and Yemen.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Hornsby administered the oath of allegiance to the candidates who met the requirements for citizenship.
"We always had a dream of starting our own business too, here," explained Reshma Paralikar of India.
But she and her husband Amit said could not achieve that goal until getting their green cards as permanent residents, in what turned out to be an 8-year-long process.
Now 6 years after opening their construction business, Karma Contractors LLC, they've now taken the oath of citizenship.
Fellow new citizen Mary Jane Bartley lived in the Philippines until spotting her future husband, Eric, on a Christian dating website nearly seven years ago.
"My sister said, 'no, I don't think that's the right guy for you,' as he was wearing shades. He looked like a hoodlum. That's what my sister said," laughed Bartley.
Now living the American dream, Mary Jane recalled her surprise to hi-tech America. "I didn't even know what to do with the opening and closing doors all on its own because in the Philippines that's rare."
For others, like Menhaar Mungur, from Mauritius, the magnitude of this moment was just sinking in.
"Because he was just asking me like, 'how do you feel?' That's my in-laws. I said, 'Just another regular day.' So he's like, 'No, this is the country you want to be all the time.' I said, 'Yeah, you're right. And that's when it sinked in, you know," said Mungur.
Several of these new citizens tell us their their advice to others wanting to become a U.S. citizen: Just be patient and don't give up.
Last year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalized more than 752,000 people nationwide.