Group of South Florida teens become US citizens

159 people from 36 countries take oath to become U.S. citizens in Oakland Park

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. – A group of South Florida teenagers became U.S. citizens on Wednesday at a ceremony in Oakland Park.

A total of 159 people from 36 countries took the oath to become U.S. citizens.

"It's that special day when people become U.S citizens, and for children, there's an extra layer of happiness for us and for them," Ana Santiago, from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said.

Most of the group consisted of young adults.

"(I'm) very happy (and) very excited," Frantz Duvernay, 18, said.  

"I'm very excited for this opportunity," Grace Storey, 15, added. 

Duvernay had been waiting for this day since he was a young child. He said he remembers arriving from Haiti with his mother when he was only 5 years old.

"I remember everything like it was yesterday. I remember getting off the plane and walking to my dad," Duvernay said.  

Duvernay received a special honor, as he was chosen to lead all the new citizens in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

"I didn't know I was going to be doing that, so I'm very proud and thankful to have the opportunity to say the Pledge of Allegiance," Duvernay said.  

Duvernay said he is grateful that this country has allowed him the opportunity to receive an education.

Duvernay is a senior at Dillard High School and will be graduating next year. He has big plans after school, but now that he's a citizen, he can't wait to do one thing.

"I just turned 18. I can vote now," he said.

"What a wonderful thing this holiday season to be able to say, 'Hey, I got my U.S. citizenship. I got my certificate. I'm good to go,'" Santiago said. 

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