SCRANTON — About 50 people earned something Friday in Lackawanna County that many of us may take for granted: U.S. citizenship.
They gained their rights as Americans in a naturalization ceremony at the federal courthouse in Scranton.
Friday’s naturalization ceremony is the last step in what’s typically a long journey toward citizenship. Newswatch 16 followed one woman from Luzerne County who spent three years preparing for today. But, she says it’s been a lifetime since she felt like she had a place to call home.
A few spoken words of an oath were all that stood between 49 people and American citizenship.
But the process of getting to a courtroom of the Federal Courthouse in Scranton took years for many of them and means more than most natural-born citizens may understand.
“It means for me I have a home. Finally, I have a home, after two years I have a home,” said Fouzia Hancock of Sugar Notch.
Hancock’s story stood out. Her smile did too as she waited for her U.S. citizenship to become official. She was born in Morocco, lived most of her life in France, and now Sugar Notch in Luzerne County is officially her American home.
“America is part of me for 25 years, but since I met my husband my life changed, my daughter’s life changed. And now America is our life,” Fouzia added.
“[It's] very emotional, it’s been a long time coming. But, I’m proud to have her as my wife and I’m proud to have her as an American wife,” added Fouzia’s husband Kendal Hancock.
The new American families come from 23 different countries. Naturalization ceremonies are held a few times a year in Scranton but organizers say they’ve had more people than usual seeking citizenship in 2013.
Fouzia Hancock said she took the step to have more rights than she did in Morocco or France. And for other reasons that aren’t as tangible as the piece of paper proof she has now, her family now has one place to call home.
“We have nothing to gripe about, this is the greatest country on the earth and we need to say it and we need to be proud,” said Kendal Hancock.