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New and native-born Americans celebrate Citizenship Day

These days, it's no secret that immigrants who want to achieve United States citizenship will have to go through a series of complicated steps that could take years to complete. Just consider New York City's first Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, Sayu Bhojwani.

Bhojwani is the founding director of the The New American Leaders Project, and she became a U.S. citizen in 2000 after what she described as "an intimidating and convoluted immigration journey that took 17 years."

To draw attention to those individuals who go through that trying process, people in New York and throughout the country celebrated Citizenship Day on Sept. 17. A lot of people aren't even aware of Citizenship Day, but this beautiful celebration is dear to the hearts of many Americans, new and native-born alike.

Right now, there are an estimated 8.5 million immigrants who are eligible for citizenship, and about 700,000 immigrants achieve citizenship or naturalization each year. However, the monetary costs and psychological loopholes keep many potential citizens from going through the process.

For some people, there is the difficult question of renouncing their citizenship in their native country. For instance, as Bhojwani points out, if you renounce your citizenship in India, then you will have to apply for and pay for a visa to go back.

The U.S. citizenship test is another barrier. Many U.S.-born citizens don't even know the answers to the questions on this test, and for immigrants whose native language isn't English, the exam can be especially troublesome.

Still, the benefits of going through the process are great and many, and the observance of Citizenship Day should remind all of us of the determination, patience and strength that new Americans have already demonstrated to achieve their United States citizenship.

Source: Huffington Post, "Celebrating America's Newest Citizens," Sayu Bhojwani, Sept. 20, 2012

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