New Citizens Welcomed In Scranton
SCRANTON — Becoming a naturalized American citizen is a lengthy process that was completed by about 50 people in Scranton Friday.
This comes as immigration reform legislation may be gaining momentum again in Washington.
Several times a year naturalization ceremonies are held in Scranton for people who have completed the path to citizenship. It requires people to be living in the United States legally for at least five years. At the same time, President Obama is again trying to draw attention to immigration reform that could extend the path to citizenship to immigrants who are here illegally.
An oath is the last and perhaps the easiest step toward becoming a naturalized American citizen that about 50 people completed at the federal courthouse in Scranton. Each one of them went through a lot of work and waited years for their certificate of citizenship.
Kathy Steiner of East Stroudsburg waited 29 years. That’s when she moved from Poland to the US.
“You live over here like a second class citizen, now I’m a full citizen. I have the same rights as everyone else and I can vote. That’s very important to me, too,” Steiner said.
Naturalization ceremonies are held several times a year in Scranton. This time, the new citizens were greeted by Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey.
The senator said he was pondering federal immigration reform during the ceremony. President Obama pushed the issue back into the spotlight this week. The president’s plan would provide the path to citizenship to immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
Senator Toomey only partially supports the bill.
“I think that the prospects are not great, frankly. I think it’s more likely that we get some small pieces done of a big complex puzzle rather than do the whole thing all at once. I think the House is likely to move in that direction and I hope they’re successful. I think that’s our best chance of doing something meaningful,” Sen. Toomey said.
Oksana Zakcharova comes from Russia and now lives in Pike County. She said she supports the President’s proposed reforms.
“Why not? Because sometimes even in Russia there weren’t a lot of opportunities to study and to work. Here, people can move up, and if they support this country and love this country, why not?” Zakcharova said.
President Obama’s immigration reform bill was passed in the Senate this summer, but the House of Representatives voted it down. The president said this week he’d like some kind of reform passed, in a package or in parts, before the end of the year.