Wearing masks on a scorching summer day and standing six feet apart couldn't dim the magic and romance of becoming an American citizen in New York City on Wednesday.
"Oh, it's beautiful,” said Reheman Khan. "I'm so proud, so proud."
"I want to cry, but I keep it in,” said Denise Johnson Green. "It was great."
Immigrants representing some three dozen countries took the oath of citizenship and heard those all important words: "Congratulations, everyone, you are now citizens of the United States of America."
It's a journey that hit a roadblock in March when US Citizen and immigration Services stopped processing naturalization cases because of COVID-19. Now, the agency is back on track.
Officials hope to clear the backlog by the end of the month, as many look forward to their new rights as citizens.
"I want to vote, I'm ready to vote,” said Johnson Green.
“Anything you can think about, you're free here to become,” Khan said.
Some of the new citizens hope that achieving their goal can be an inspiration to others in these challenging times.
"Even though there's people getting sick, I think it's a sign of hope that things are eventually going to get better,” said Julia Equiluz.