NAMPA -- More than 200 new U.S. citizens were recognized during a naturalization ceremony in Nampa on Thursday.
Hundreds came to watch as people of various ages from 47 different countries officially became Americans together.
Some are fairly new to America. Others have lived in the United States for most of their lives. One of them is Jazmin Garibay, whose parents brought her to the U.S. from Mexico when she was two.
'I GREW UP THINKING I WAS AMERICAN'
"I grew up thinking I was American," Garibay told KTVB.
Garibay only found out she wasn't a U.S. citizen when she tried to learn to drive, and learned that she needed a social security number.
"It means a lot," Garibay said. "My parents have been citizens for a couple years now, and for me to become one finally, I am very, very happy. I couldn't be happier," she said.
Others who participated in the ceremony came to the United States as refugees, like Fangamou Blema. Blema left the west African country of Guinea several years ago, and has lived in Idaho for about five years.
"The situation in Guinea was a very bad political issue," said Blema. "Things were going very bad in the country."
Mike Conway is the Field Office Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in our local area. Conway said the United States is known around the world for taking in refugees, like Blema.
'AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A BETTER LIFE'
"America has always been known to open their doors for people that are having problems in their own country," said Conway. "And we taken them in and give them an opportunity to have a better life."
Fangamou Blema, formerly of Guinea
Even with almost 50 countries represented, Conway said they see trends in who's coming to America.
"About half of them are from Mexico, and we're seeing a big influx from Iraq and Afghanistan here now," Conway said. "That's the greatest thing about the United States, is that it doesn't matter what color you are, or what religion you are, we're all under the same constitution and everybody's created equal. And that's the draw to the United States, is the freedom that we have in this country,"
While some new U.S. citizens have been living in the U.S. on a green card or visa for years, this ceremony means a different new beginning for them.
"It just means a lot to me -- just finally getting over that hump and being able to move on with life," said Scott Martens, who was a citizen of Canada.
Every September, the ceremony is held in honor of the U.S. Constitution which was signed in September of 1787.