Naturalization ceremony held in Alexandria

During a moving ceremony in Alexandria, 700 residents from 98 different countries were granted citizenship, changing their lives forever.{ }

"It's very hard, yes," Manassas resident Carlo Ramirez said.

Ramirez works as a trash collector for the city, an opportunity for which he risked his life. For three days, he walked through the Arizona desert, with no food or water. He did it to escape Guatemala's economy and sends money back home every month.

Ramirez explained, "It's better for my family."

But for years, Ramirez and hundreds of others at the naturalization ceremony have wanted to be Americans. Tuesday, that moment finally happened.

New citizen Jay Sandrugu said, "I am so happy. I'm so delighted. This is the best day in my life."

Turkey native Kenan Uzan works in the bakery section at a Wegmen's, so his 4 and 5-year-old sons can have a future.

"Everything for them," Uzan said.

While citizenship will improve their lives, Congressman Gerry Connolly says they will improve the country as well.

Connolly added, "America's always refreshed by new arrivals -- look at our history."

Just five minutes after the ceremony, Uzan said he could feel a difference.

"I cannot say, just something different. It's like, American!," he exclaimed.

As their American dream finally begins, they know their lives will never be the same.

Aniss Bensidhoum explained, "I'm just blessed to have the opportunity to be able to pursue any job and have the freedom that we didn't have back home."

Fellow new American Leala Bensidhoum added, "Our whole life is going to be different."

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