SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) --On Thursday morning, dozens of people were part of a naturalization ceremony to become America's newest citizens.
The emotional ceremony was held at California's Great America in Santa Clara because officials wanted the new citizens to experience something different with their families for the 4th of July weekend. They were each given tickets to the theme park.
And even though they are all from different parts of the world, there is one thing they all hold most dear and near -- their newly earned power to vote.
"I could pretty much do anything I want,"
The day started with men, women, young, and old waiting in line. It won't be the last time they'll have to wait in line. But after Thursday, they'll each do it as a citizen of the United States.
"Better life in America and just able to vote," said new citizen Edwina Ferrer.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service swore in 79 of America's newest citizens during a special naturalization ceremony at California's Great America Amusement Park in Santa Clara.
Guest speaker, California Congressman Mike Honda, spoke about honor, commitment and the power of the vote; a theme that repeated itself often.
"It's been a while," said new citizen Martin Bernal. "I want to do this for a long time, so now my dream come true."
Bernal, from Mexico, shared the special day with his family. He told ABC7 News that he will fight to help others wanting citizenship, have the same.
"We need to now vote for the real leaders," he said.
"My kids didn't even know I wasn't a citizen," said Patricia Morales.
Morales is from Guadalajara and says it's difficult explaining to her daughter Isabella what happened in Southern California when residents had a standoff with busloads of undocumented immigrants, turning them away; she understands why so many families want to come here, any way they can.
"My parents did it with me," she said. "So you know now I'm here and my kids are adults, this is my little one, I have a 26-year-old. I'm a grandma, you know, and it's difficult."
More than 7,000 new U.S. citizens will be sworn in over the 4th of July weekend, adding more voices to and potential voters to help decide policy.