They came to the Big Apple from 50 countries — some living here for decades — and on Tuesday, they fulfilled their dream to become American citizens.
Waving the Stars and Stripes during a naturalization ceremony at the New York Public Library in Midtown, 200 newly minted US citizens beamed and cheered after taking an oath to seal their new official status.
“I was waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Joseph Pincay-Chan, a 29-year-old who moved to the Bronx from Ecuador in his youth to live with his grandmother.
“This is a big step. I feel relieved,” said Pincay-Chan, who works as a manager at a McDonald’s. “I think I’ll have more rights now.”
Of the hundreds of new citizens, 86 of them came from the Dominican Republic.
“It is an important day for me,” said 72-year-old Milagros Rodriguez, who moved to the city from the Caribbean nation 34 years ago. “I’m very emotional.”
Also from the Dominican Republic was 24-year-old Smerly Canela, who lives in the Bronx and now plans to follow her dream of becoming a medical assistant.
“This will really help me a lot,” she said.
For Serife Saya from Turkey, the freedom she felt in America is what drew her in.
“I’m very excited and happy. I love the United States,’’ Saya said. “Freedom is very important to me.
“People here say what you think,” the 64-year-old Manhattanite said. “In my country, sometimes there is a limit.”
The group listened to a pre-recorded message from President Trump as part of the ceremony. “No matter where you come from or what faith you practice, this country is now your country,’’ Trump said in the message.
“Our history is now your history. And our traditions are now your traditions.
“You have pledged allegiance to America. And when you give your love and loyalty to America, she returns her love and loyalty to you,” he said.
Some of the new citizens said they hurried up their bid to officially become American citizens because of Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants, especially those coming across the border from Mexico.
Anait Piloyani, a 78-year-old former Mexican consulate worker, said she had been here 40 years and finally decided it was time to make things official.
She also defended her former home.
“I know Mexico is a good country, and [its residents] come here to take jobs other people don’t want,” she said.
Piloyani was one of four people from America’s southern neighbor to be granted citizenship at the ceremony.
“I love everything about this country and city — the museums, the culture. Everything except the crime,” she said.
Additional reporting by Rebecca Liebson
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