SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Fifty San Diegans became naturalized citizens Tuesday morning in Balboa Park.
In the crowd receiving their certificates were people from 50 different countries; seven were active service members.
"It took me almost a year and a half almost two years for the process," said Richie Concepcion, a naturalized citizen.
He celebrated the accomplishment with his family.
He said the process was a bit faster for him because he is serving our country.
Concepcion was born in the Marshall Islands
Knowing that many others are hopeful for their shot at asylum or citizenship, he said he feels lucky.
"I have family members that it took over a decade trying to get their citizenship, and I know there is people who may not be able to get it depending on certain things. But it just makes me feel really proud to be American and just really happy that I am so lucky that I was able to get it," said Concepcion.
Concepcion tells people hoping to live the American dream to find all the resources they can.
"Don't be discouraged with how long it may take. Don't be discouraged if anybody is negative about it, just keep ongoing. It's truly an amazing thing," he said.
He said he is going to do two things now that he's a citizen.
"Register to vote and probably go get some food," said Concepcion.
Last fiscal year, USCIS said about 808,000 people became naturalized citizens. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offers free virtual information sessions about the process.