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In Union Station’s Grand Hall on a mid-September morning, nearly 100 people completed the U.S. citizenship process with a naturalization ceremony.
Eighty-seven people, from 40 countries, partook in the ceremony, complete with remarks from Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas.
“Kansas City is a city for everyone,” Lucas said in both English and Spanish.
One woman from El Salvador summed up her emotions as "happy" after the Wednesday morning ceremony.
Carolina Grady spent the first 15 years of her life in El Salvador. At 10 years old, her grandmother applied for Grady and her sister to receive residency in the States.
Near the end of her five-year wait to enter the U.S. legally, she said her family faced multiple threats on her life from a local gang.
“It was horrible because I was always alert and scared,” she said.
But Grady, her mother and her sister made it to the U.S., where they reunited with Grady’s grandmother and father.
Now a mother of two herself, Grady said she is thankful for where she is raising her children.
“We never thought that we would be able to reach this point of citizenship, so it is very emotional,” Grady said through an interpreter. “Now I feel more relaxed, happier because I know it’s a better way for my family, for my husband so we can be in a better situation now.”
When asked how she felt heading home as a citizen, Grady had trouble putting her emotions into words.
“I don’t know how to describe this feeling,” she said. “First of all, grateful because of my family and my husband, my daughters. And I feel like this is a new accomplish[ment].”
Grady’s husband is also on a path to citizenship. She looks forward to the day they both are granted a U.S. passport.
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