LOS ANGELES (AP) — Thousands of people, some wiping tears from their eyes, became United States citizens during a naturalization ceremony Wednesday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Ana Ishkhanyan, who took the oath while her husband proudly watched, said after emigrating five years ago from Armenia, she can't imagine living anywhere but the U.S.
"It feels like home," said Ishkhanyan, a business management student. Her husband, Gevorg, became a citizen previously.
About 3,000 people took the oath in the morning and more than 3,500 others were expected during an afternoon ceremony, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials.
They represent 140 countries, with the highest numbers from Mexico, Philippines, China, El Salvador, Guatemala and Iran.
The candidates, some of whom are members of the U.S. Armed Forces, were all lawful permanent residents who met the requirements for citizenship.
After reciting the oath, the new citizens took the Pledge of Allegiance. Some cried, others sang.
Gevorg Ishkhanyan said he and Ana are creating a "new life" for their 7-year-old daughter, who was born in Armenia, and their U.S.-born son, who's 2.
"I want my kids to grow up in this country," said Gevorg Ishkhanyan, who works as a delivery driver and dental hygienist. "They can find a better life here than in my country, unfortunately."
More than 86,000 people became U.S. citizens in the Los Angeles area in 2015, officials said.
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