Twenty new U.S. citizens celebrate at Fourth of July ceremony

TUCSON, Ariz. - It was standing room only inside the visitors center at Saguaro National Park west on Fourth of July.

Twenty people from 8 countries became U.S. citizens. While they all took a different path to get here, they took the same oath together.

The naturalization ceremony took about an hour, but it took some years to celebrate the moment.

"I think I applied, if I'm not mistaken, for my green card around 2008. And I got it 2012," said Sangita Pawar. 

Pawar moved to Tucson from India 17 years ago. Not only did she get her Ph.D, she is now a dean at the U of A. She wiped away tears as she took the podium to thank her family in Mumbai and the friends and coworkers who have become family. 

Many of them were at the ceremony to cheer her on. Pawar told the room that this country has given her a lot, and she's excited to give back -- now officially. 

At one point the judge presiding over the ceremony urged the group to vote. That's something Pawar says she's looking forward to. 

"You know this always felt like home for a long time," Pawar said. "I guess it's just, I think it's important that I will get to vote now."

The other citizenship candidates originate from Brazil, Canada, Chile, India, Iraq, Mexico, Nepal and the Philippines. 

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, more than 14,000 new citizens will be celebrated in nearly 175 naturalization ceremonies between June 28 and July 10. 

A number of speakers addressed the group including Pima County Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Elias, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Macdonald, and Saguaro National Park Superintendent Leah McGinnis. 

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