Richland courthouse holds first naturalization ceremony since pandemic started

RICHLAND, Wash. – The excitement was tangible inside the Eastern Washington District Court in Richland this morning.

Eighteen people who already live in Washington were sworn in as official United States Citizens by Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. during the first post-pandemic naturalization ceremony

“I’m very emotional, but it’s hard to explain how I feel right now,” Marianna Torres said.

“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Ana Lombera added.

These new U.S. Citizens said it’s not an easy or quick process, especially given the conditions of this past year.

“We had to throw in of course, a historic pandemic, right? Hitting the world. More recently, of course is this historic heatwave that’s hitting the country and the Tri-Cities,” Judge Mendoza said.

During his opening remarks, Mendoza explained how special these ceremonies are; he is a child of two immigrants from Mexico who made a life for him in Washington.

For Marianna and Ana, every step leading up to the oath, was worth it.

“I’m really happy, very, very happy, now I can say this is my home, I’m not going anywhere else,” Marianna, who lives in Pasco said.

“I can’t believe, that I’m here, what? I’m a citizen,” Ana said.

Torres recalled what it was like to leave Chihuahua, Mexico nearly 30 years ago.

“The first years were really, really hard, you know, you leave everything you love behind,” she said.

Not to mention the culture shock and language barrier, but Marianna and her husband made a life for themselves in the US. She now has six children and twelve grandchildren who all live nearby.

“I’m very proud, thanks to the opportunity this country gave me I became a paralegal after cleaning houses; I don’t say those things are bad but you go little by little higher,” she said.

Ana Lombera was only six years old when she and her mother migrated from Mexico City to Washington. She now lives in Kennewick.

“I think about it all the time, you can’t forget where you come from, all the hard work your parents put in. Now that I’m older I get what my mom had to go through and it’s so much more special and I appreciate it so much,” she said.

With their flags in hand, and certificate of citizenship, both women encourage anyone who’s contemplating the process, to just get started.

“It’s a lengthy process, and it’s a nerve-wracking type of process, but you can do it,” Ana said.

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