New citizens take oath

August 4, 2008 2:58:14 PM PDT
With the election just three months away, the excitement of casting a vote grows stronger. For 525 people, the excitement will be heightened by the fact that this election will be their very first vote casted in the states. Monday, those people became American citizens.

It's a process, to be sure. The Department of Homeland Security has to deem you a person of good moral character, which generally means you have to have had a green card for 5 years.

You must speak, read, write, and understand english and pass a civics exam.

"Oh, this is very exciting. I got up at 7 a.m. with my heartbeat in my stomach the whole morning," said Xiomara Laugart.

Ten years ago, Laugart left Cuba to perform in a Massachusetts music festival. She couldn't bear to return home.

"I saw possibilities and future and hope and I stayed," added Laugart.

Today her story and its culmination mingled with hundreds of other stories of distances travelled and years lived away from loved ones. Stories of working tirelessly to send money home. Stories of slowing building new lives.

For Laugart, becoming a citizen means job opportunities and something equally as valuable to her.

"And I want to vote. I'm desperate for vote. Why? Because it's my right. It's my freedom," she said.

And just to say that word freedom and to know that it means a vote, and wages earned for hard work, and the ability to speak out fearlessly. That says Laugart, is the sweetest reward for the hardest journey.

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Jamie Roth
WEB PRODUCED BY: Scott Curkin

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