Fifty new citizens sworn in on Independence Day - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Fifty new citizens sworn in on Independence Day

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Fifty immigrants representing 26 countries celebrated Independence Day by becoming United States citizens.

It was a moment that meant a lot to them and their families.

"This is a special day, because it meant freedoms, it meant opportunities, it meant opening new futures for ourselves and families and friends also," said Pauline Dongala, who looked on as her niece became a U.S. citizen.

Dongala's family began moving to the United States in 1999, as the Republic of Congo dealt with a civil war.  

Dongala's niece, Belmiche Milondo, arrived in the America eight years ago.

Becoming a citizen Friday was the end of one long journey, but she told CBS 3 that it is really just the first step, as she continues her education.

"A lot of opportunity - doors open for me, my life and my family," said Milondo. "So, I'm thankful to God."

Ahmed Almasiri fled from Iraq, arriving in the U.S. in 2009.

He said family members back home were excited for Friday's ceremony, even while dealing with the current crisis in that country.

"Now the situation in Iraq, the security is so bad, they left their home and moved to another city," said Almasiri. "I hope I can help them."

Almasiri earned a medical degree from the University of Baghdad and he is now studying to become a medical doctor in the U.S.

He called it a pleasure and honor to become a new citizen.

"I can even maybe help my family," Almasiri stated. "I can let them move to the United States. I can go everywhere."

Before an immigrant can take the citizenship test, they have to pay for it.

That costs $680, which covers the application fee and fingerprinting.

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