'It's real': America welcomes 35 new citizens at suburban ceremony
Their journeys may have started in 16 different nations around the world, but for the 35 people who gathered Monday at Chicago Botanic Garden's Nichols Hall in Glencoe, the destination was the same: American citizenship.
Each holding small U.S. flags, the immigrants raised their right hand and were sworn in as new citizens by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer.
"It means a lot to be part of this nation as a citizen," said Oksana Zbytkovska of Wheeling, who came to the U.S. from Ukraine six years ago. "It's real. I'm so happy to be a part of this great nation." Zbytkovska planned to call her family back in Ukraine after being sworn in to share the good news.
Taking the Oath of Allegiance with Zbytkovska were five fellow Ukraine expats, along with immigrants from Mexico, the Philippines, Canada, India, the United Kingdom, Guatemala, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, the Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Russia and Switzerland.
"I'm good. I'm shaking (with excitement)," Ukrainian immigrant Ivan Mazurenko of Buffalo Grove said after the ceremony.
Among the dignitaries taking part was U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who embraced the group as fellow Americans.
"We are all immigrants, we are proud of our diversity," she said.