Recent naturalization ceremony illustrates real American story

When it comes to immigration, the image most of us have these days is chaos on our southern border and families being separated as adults try to illegally cross into the United States.

No matter your political stance, it’s an ugly look on an explosive issue.

And it’s a sad look, given that the foundation of the country is rooted in immigration.

There is another, much more positive freeze-frame on immigration and it played out recently in federal court in Williamsport.

Thirty-six people from 24 countries took oaths to become naturalized American citizens in U.S. Middle District Court.

The men and women waved American flags after completing a naturalization process offered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. A man from Peru took a journey of three decades to get to the room, inspired to become an American citizen after watching his son vote for president of the United States six years ago.

The process is detailed and it takes time. It is also the correct way to become a U.S. citizen, with a system in place that creates an appreciation of America’s culture and history while the person works toward naturalization. Compare that to scaling a fence in the dead of night and living a life in the shadows as a virtual undercover American for decades.

There is a right way to become an American, settled by immigrants, takes in more legal immigrants than any country in the world annually.

We should all be proud and happy about that. There’s a reason more people seek citizenship in this country than any other.

“We share a love of freedom,” Alfredo Enrique Herrera Guerra, of Peru, said. “We share a love of democracy and express the ideas and notice the cultures and backgrounds and share that heritage.”

U.S. District Magistrate Judge William I. Arbuckle, who swore Guerra in as a naturalized American citizen, could understandably relate.

Arbuckle, who grew up in Erie, said he has a sister-in-law from Ethiopia and a brother-in-law from Egypt.

And that’s the real American story.

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