American Dream comes true for 200 immigrants who become U.S. citizens at New York City naturalization ceremony

When Karina Borbon arrived in the U.S. 10 years ago from the Dominican Republic, she dreamed of becoming a citizen but struggled to learn English — and worried about the threat of deportation.

Her dream was finally realized on Tuesday, when Borbon became an American citizen at the fifth annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony at the New York Public Library in Midtown.

“I am so excited…It was a long journey but finally, I did it,” said Borbon, 32, who works as a waitress in the Bronx. “Now I have become a part of the nation. I want to help my community and help the people become citizens, too.”

Borbon was one of 86 Dominican immigrants at the ceremony — a majority of the 200 candidates who hailed from over 50 countries.

Dervan Victorin was the only candidate from St. Lucia, and at 19 years old, one of the youngest. When he arrived in the U.S. four years ago he worried about going to a new high school.

“I was very nervous because of my accent,” he said. “No one would understand me.”

Now, Victorin said, America feels like home. So much so, that a year ago he decided to join the U.S. Army Reserves as a unit supply specialist, hoping to make a difference by serving his country.

“It’s a feeling I can’t explain,” he said about becoming a citizen. “It’s my pleasure to serve the country that I’m becoming a citizen of.”

Enobing Etim Mbaba, a native of Nigeria, is the last in her family to become a citizen. She was looking forward to being able to travel easily with her son and husband.

“It’s going to change my life a lot,” said Mbaba, 44, of the Bronx. “Anywhere I want to go…any country I want to go to — I can.”

During the ceremony, Mbaba and other candidates recited the Oath of Allegiance, by which new citizens pledge to abide by the laws and Constitution of the U.S., and waved tiny American flags as “Proud to be an American” played.

NYPL president Anthony Marx welcomed the candidates, many of whom utilized the library’s free citizenship classes in preparation for their interviews and tests.

“Every library is available to everyone. You don’t need to prove your citizenship to come to the library…This library — today in another way, but always for everyone — is your library,” said Marx.

All the candidates were given NYPL cards after the ceremony.

Marx also emphasized New York’s commitment to immigrants, saying that, more than any other city, New York has always welcomed them.

“There are moments in American history when we have wavered from that commitment,” said Marx, alluding to President Trump’s staunch anti-immigration stance.

“The will of the people has brought us back to it...You now are citizens; you must act as citizens — in the polling booth, in the streets.”

Tim Houghton, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ New York deputy district director, presented the candidates with their Certificates of Naturalization.

“Let me be the first to say: ‘My fellow Americans,’” Houghton said.

The new Americans were just a handful of the 14,000 immigrants who will become citizens this week in naturalization ceremonies across the nation.

Nusrat Zaman was the only member of her family being naturalized on Tuesday but said they are all working hard to become citizens, one by one. For Zaman, who was born in Bangladesh and now lives in the Bronx, leaving her home country was depressing at first.

“I left my friends. In the beginning for everyone, it is new,” she said. “It’s very different from home.”

But it’s those differences that have made Zaman, 25, grow to love New York.

“New York is so easy to handle, you can go everywhere…You can study here, you can (get) financial aid. In Bangladesh, you have to pay a lot of money (to study),” said Zaman, who is studying at LaGuardia Community College and hoping to pursue a career in health administration.

Zaman was not the only candidate excited by the prospects of a U.S. education. Dominican Republic-born Ana Garcia has had three children born in the U.S. but will celebrate July 4 for the first time as a citizen. Garcia hopes to raise her kids here and send them to American schools.

“It feels very good to have such American kids,” she said. “Here, everything is (easier).”