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For several Kansas residents, becoming a U.S. citizen became a dream come true on Friday

Alice Mannette
The Hutchinson News
Forty people, representing 18 countries, are sworn in as U.S. citizens on Feb. 19 in Wichita.

WICHITA — With tears bubbling up in her eyes, Abigail Landeros raised her right hand before a judge and became a U.S. citizen.   

On Feb. 19 in Wichita, Landeros and 39 other individuals took a pledge to abide by the Constitution of the United States. 

Abigail Landeros, of Ulysses, became a U.S. citizen on Feb. 19 in Wichita.

When Landeros was 8 years old, she and her mother traveled to Kansas from Mexico. She enrolled in school, learned English and eventually married and became a dental assistant. 

"My mom brought me (to the U.S.) when I was so small," Landeros said. "I'm just so excited (to become a citizen)."

Landeros' husband, also from Mexico, is a veterinarian. He is in the U.S. under a special work permit. He, too, wants to become a citizen, like his wife and three children.

Although Luz Rivero is also from Mexico, her journey is different from Landeros'. Rivero and her husband moved to Garden City in 1989.

"That is where my husband took me," Rivero said. 

Luz Rivero, of Garden City, who was born in Mexico, is excited to become a U.S. citizen on Feb. 19.

She and her husband moved to Kansas to work on a farm. She always dreamed of becoming a citizen. 

"I now have the right to vote," she said. "It was one of my big dreams."

Along with Rivero, three others from Garden City became citizens, one immigrant is from Haiti, two are from Burma and one person is from Somalia. 

Like many others in the ceremony, for Morejon Rodriguez, Friday was a dream come true. Rodriguez, who was born in Cuba, landed in Miami when he was 15, eventually making his way to Dodge City, where he learned English and attended high school. 

Morejon Rodriguez, of Dodge City, who is originally from Cuba, became a U.S. citizen on Feb. 19 in Wichita.

For Rodriguez, the U.S. is a special place. 

"It is a great country," he said. "The freedoms we have here are not the same as anywhere else."

Rodriguez said he is happy to live in a small town, calling the big city too crazy. But no matter where he lives, he said he wants to be a part of this country that he loves. 

"Coming from a country that oppresses and pushes down their citizens and makes them not flourish, makes me appreciate this country," he said. "If you work, you earn it — it's yours."

Rodriguez works at a meat-packing plant and said he is living the American Dream. Everywhere he goes, he tells people the difference between Cuba and America.

"They are night and day," he said. "People should see the opportunities that this country offers."

Karla Lopez, of South Hutchinson, became a U.S. citizen on Feb. 19 in Wichita.

Although she has not been in the U.S. long, Karla Lopez, of South Hutchinson, is proud to become a citizen. She arrived in Kansas from Guatemala three years ago. Lopez works at a church and wants her three children to grow up in the U.S. Next month, her husband, Edgar, will become a citizen, as well. 

"I am so very happy today," Lopez said. "I am excited and very proud."

In addition to the countries mentioned above, these new citizens came from Burma, Canada, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fuji, Haiti, India, Iraq, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Syria and Vietnam. Some of their new hometowns include Greensburg, Hays and Salina.

Because of COVID-19, no family or friends were allowed into the official citizenship ceremony at Wichita State University's Eugene M. Hughes Metropolitan Complex.

To learn more about becoming a citizen, go to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website page for official information about the legal immigration system in the U.S. Go to the translated page for information in Spanish. Information is also available on the Social Hub.

To interact with a computer, call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 to access automated information through an interactive menu 24 hours a day. Representatives are available to answer questions in either English and Spanish from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. central time Monday through Friday.