BOISE -- June 19 is World Refugee Day. And in honor of the day, the Boise office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services held a special all-refugee naturalization ceremony at the Grove Plaza.
“I'm so glad to be American citizen,” said Khamis Ahamed.
For Khamis Ahamed, the Treasure Valley is a far cry from his war-torn homeland of Sudan.
“I feel very happy because I come from the way of the war and the way of the bad stuff happening over there, but now I’m free and glad to become American,” said Ahamed.
Ahamed was one of 34 refugees from 14 countries who was naturalized as an American citizen in downtown Boise Saturday.
“We're naturalizing 34 applicants for naturalization who have made all the requirements,” said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Robert Mather. “They've done the test, they've been interviewed and they're authorized to become citizens of the United States.”
Eligibility for refugee status is decided on a case-by-case basis by an immigration officer. Every year, the President and Congress establish a cap on how many refugees will be accepted into the United States. Those accepted can then apply for permanent citizenship.
“My family and I have been through a lot of stuff to get it,” said Petre Danaila.
Danaila is the last person in his family to receive American Citizenship after they fled Romania years ago.
“We’re Christian and at that time the Communists were persecuting the Christians,” said Danaila. “It was very, very tough.”
For Ahamed and Danaila, they said they're glad to finally be American Citizens.
“It's a blast of emotion,” said Danaila. “I think I got this as a privilege. Not everyone has the right. Not everybody can get it. It’s pretty hard to get it.”
“At that time I hold my kids and run away from the war, fighting--bad situation, but I’m free here and I love America,” said Ahamed.
Becoming a naturalized American citizen is a voluntary program. Refugees can stay in the country with their green cards. Last year, close to 75,000 refugees were allowed to enter the United States.