Hundreds of immigrants living in South Florida celebrated the Fourth of July by becoming U.S. citizens.
Two hundred immigrants from 50 countries took the oath of allegiance Thursday at Miami Dade College's Freedom Tower, which is considered the "Ellis Island of the South" for its role in providing assistance to Cuban refugees a half century ago.
"It is where so many of us were processed. I remember coming here with my parents and we were given powdered milk and yellow cheese and we were so thankful to have the generosity of the American people," said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. "I know as a naturalized citizens myself, I so remember the day that I became a citizen and I hope it is as memorable to them -- not because I am the speaker, but because it is July 4th, it's the Freedom Tower, and it's Miami, baby."
David Hanouna, of France, was one the 200. He has tried getting citizenship for the last seven years.
"To become a citizen on the day this country became independent from England is a very special day," he said.
Yousely Foincois, of Haiti, said she sought security.
"I am hoping that in this country -- one day -- I can make a difference in this country," she said.
"Yes, everybody is proud," added Mohamed Islam, of Bangladesh, another new U.S. citizen.
Luisa Saavedra, of Chile, said she hopes America becomes part of the fabric of her family.
"I love this country," she said. "That is why I came here and I have grandchildren that were born here. My daughter married an American guy and they are all happy."
Carlos Canora, of Nicaragua, said his journey to the U.S. has been arduous but rewarding.
"I think it is the most important part of my life to come here to the land of opportunity," he said. "I congratulate the entire nation and the entire world. God bless America."
The event was one of more than 100 ceremonies planned nationwide. In all, more than 7,800 immigrants will become U.S. citizens.