COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - With right hands raised, 41 people from 22 countries took the Oath of Allegiance and became U.S. citizens Monday at Library 21c , formally joining a nation often embroiled in cultural conflict.
The ceremony started with the National Anthem and ended with America the Beautiful and God Bless America, all sung by the America the Beautiful Chorus.
Fernando Feliu Moggi recently decided to pursue citizenship. Now that he’s a citizen, he’s eager to join the community and contribute more to the nation.
“I realized that the kind of opportunity, the kind of life, the kind of ideals that this country represents are really what I wanted to be about,” said Moggi, a Spanish immigrant, 17-year resident of Colorado Springs and Spanish and humanities professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Ildeberto Dominguez said he’s lived in the U.S. for most of his life, moving to America when he was 15. He now has his own construction business. His wife, a Colorado Springs native, and three kids joined him at the ceremony.
“The life is better here,” Dominguez said. “That’s why you come here, for a better life and everything. I plan on staying here and living all my life here with my family.
“Now I can vote,” he said before walking to the voter registration table in the back of the room.
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, welcomed the new citizens with lofty declarations of their value to the nation and the historic role of immigrants in the nation’s development. He emphasized the “fresh perspectives” they bring and briefly talked about his daughter-in-law, a Ukrainian immigrant who soon will apply for citizenship.
Later, Lamborn told The Gazette: “We will always welcome people who are hard working, who have something to contribute to our nation. I respect it when people follow the rule of law to get here, even though that’s a time-consuming, long and involved process.”
Lamborn tried to reconcile his warm rhetoric about new citizens with his hard-line immigration stances, including support for the border wall and opposition to a Democrat-sponsored bill that would provide amnesty and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He emphasized the importance of following legal immigration procedures and praised the new citizens who “respected the rule of law.”
Like many Republican elected officials, he did not condemn President Donald Trump’s recent remarks targeting four U.S. freshman congresswomen of color, including U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., a Somali immigrant and U.S. citizen.
Trump tweeted July 15 in all caps, “If you are not happy here, you can leave!” He tweeted the next day, “Our country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful. If you hate our country, or are not happy here, you can leave!”
Lamborn said Trump’s statements were taken out of context.
“He said, ‘Go fix the problems where you come from, and then come back and show us how it’s done.’ And I think he was reacting against people who sometimes make anti-American comments,” Lamborn said without elaborating.
Trump had tweeted: “If you’re complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave. You can leave right now. Come back if you want. Don’t come back. It’s okay too.”
Lamborn said the president was referring to “people who have said they don’t respect the United States and have been disappointed in the United States since arriving here and feel that America has a lot of problems. Although everyone has the right to criticize ... I think everyone should also make a positive contribution.”