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Border & Immigration

49 Kids Become Some Of San Diego County's Newest Americans

49 Children Become Some Of San Diego County's Newest Americans

From school plays to graduations, growing up in the U.S. includes many milestones. But a group of 49 local kids celebrated something more unusual at Liberty Station on Friday: becoming Americans.

Owgin Lazar, 12, was dressed in his Sunday best and had his newly awarded certificate in hand.

“I play soccer a lot so I want to become a soccer player,” Lazar said.


He also wants to join the military.

"I look forward to helping other people,” Lazar said.

He and other children from 13 different countries, one as young as 4, took their citizenship oath at the former Naval Training Center.

Deborah Szekely, founder of the New Americans Museum, helped organize Friday's event. She told the children that they “will help build our future.”

Szekely said that when children become citizens, they don’t usually get any attention.


“They become a citizen anyhow but it just comes in an envelope,” she said.

But Friday had plenty of fanfare with politicians giving speeches and a chorus singing.

Lazar was 5 years old when he moved to El Cajon from Iraq.

“I remember it was dangerous there and scary a little. We were really excited when we got to move,” Lazar said. "[It is] a great thing to become a citizen."

Szekely wants the memory of the ceremony to stay with the children for the rest of their lives.

“When they’re 20 and 30, if someone mentions citizenship, I hope there'll be a flashback and they will remember this day,” Szekely said.