SAN DIEGO - Dozens of active-duty military members became American citizens Wednesday during a special ceremony aboard the USS Midway.
The 57 new citizens originate from 29 countries, with the most coming from Mexico and the Philippines.
The ceremony is part of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) annual celebration of Independence Day. More than 7,800 candidates will become citizens at ceremonies across the country and around the world from July 1 to July 5.
"I've been in this country for five years and it's been a great, great, place. I have no complaints. Everything that has been going on for me has been excellent," said 20-year-old Okunsanya Amos, originally from Jamaica.
Amos came to the U.S. when he was 15-years-old and joined the military after high school.
"I've always read in books about how great America was. I decided to make it better, so I wanted to do something great for the country that basically took me in," Amos said when asked about why he joined the military.
"I'm excited to become a U.S. citizen. That was my dream, so now my dream is coming true," said William Sipa, a member of the Navy and native of Cameroon.
Special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act allow USCIS to expedite the naturalization process for current members of the U.S. armed forces and those recently discharged.
Since September 2002, USCIS has naturalized 89,095 military members.
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