Prominent D.C. playwright becomes American citizen

    New U.S. citizen Karen Zacarias. (ABC7)

    Ahead of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on Sunday, September 17th,the National Archives hosted a special naturalization ceremony Friday morning.

    Just steps away from the Charters of Freedom - the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights - 30 naturalization candidates took the Oath of Allegiance. They're from 22 countries around the world.

    During the ceremony, acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke addressed these new U.S. citizens, saying diversity makes our nation better.

    “I believe in tolerance and I believe in inclusion,” Duke said.

    Those remarks were welcomed by new U.S. citizen Karen Zacarias. She says even though at age 10 she and her parents came here from Mexico on visas, she has empathy for so-called "dreamers" with the DACA program currently in limbo.

    “I think people really need to be educated about these young people who come here young who are Americans in every way except on paper,” Zacarias said.

    Zacarias was not just celebrating her new American citizenship on Friday. She was also celebrating opening night of her new play at the Arena Stage called “Native Gardens.”

    “It's set in Washington DC. It's a comedy,” she said.

    The play explores the cultural clash between a young Latino couple and their older, white neighbors.

    “We're able to examine a lot of the issues that are going on right now in our society - but with humor,” said Zacarias.

    Beyond her playwright residency at Arena Stage, Zacarias is also the founder of Young Playwrights' Theater, an organization teaching playwriting in D.C. Public Schools.

    Now she can add another line to her bio: naturalized American.

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