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More than 500 people sworn in as U.S. citizens at South Florida Fair

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2020-01-13 13:15:11-05

The immigration debate has brought Washington to a standstill in recent months. 

But on Tuesday, there was no debating but instead more celebrating as 512 people from 65 different countries officially became United States citizens in West Palm Beach.

It was the 7th annual naturalization ceremony hosted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the South Florida Fairgrounds.

The day was especially momentous for Nasmus Saquib and his family of Bangladesh.

"This is the best day of my life, without any doubt," said Saquib.

Saquib, his brother Nazmun and his mother all became U.S. citizens in one day together.

"It was a dream from my childhood because I know this is the country of opportunity," said Nazmun.

"We came together, we applied together, and finally our interview was also scheduled together. And now for the ceremony, we are together. So everything is just magical, it's unbelievable," said Nasmus.

For these 512 people, the journey hasn't been easy. 

"It's a realization of people's dreams. It's taken them a long time to get here," said Ana Santiago with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Many applied for citizenship over a decade ago.

"I'm from a country like Bangladesh where it's not easy to come here," said Nasmus. "When we applied, it was in 2005."

And that journey also came with a divided political climate. Just last week, the Haitian community protested the president as the government still debates immigration in Washington.

“It’s hard to respect a president who has such views on immigrants, but I believe it’s going to change. This is the best country in the world," said Nasmus.

Feslie Revolte from Haiti said despite the tensions, she's happy to embrace freedom of speech.

"Feels great, because I love America," she said.

Nasmus said he's also excited to vote in the next federal election.

"There are bad apples and good apples in all cultures, all religions and all countries… so you have to look at it that way."

At the end of the ceremony, there was special video message of encouragement from President Donald Trump.

"There is no higher honor. There is no greater responsibility. You now share the obligation to teach our values to others," he said. "When you give your love and loyalty to America, she returns her love and loyalty to you."

In addition to the ceremony, the families also got free access to the South Florida fair for an opportunity to celebrate their new citizenship.

The 512 citizenship candidates represent the following countries: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, People's Republic of China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam.