IRVING -- Eighty-five people representing 29 countries were naturalized as American citizens during a special ceremony held Tuesday in Irving.
In the front row was 24-year-old Sadiq Aldawaima.
He was born a refugee to Palestinian parents seeking shelter in Iraq. From Iraq, his family was forced into a refugee camp near the border with Syria. They would spend years there before gaining entry to the United States in 2010.
"It is my dream to become a U.S. citizen, " Aldawaima said. "It means everything to me. It means that I'll be a U.S. citizen. Basically, I'll be a citizen for the first time in my life and it means a lot to me."
According to the Department of Homeland Security, Texas is fourth in the country for naturalizing American citizens. In 2016, more than 64,000 people earned legal citizenship to the United States.
"I feel that this state is my state," Aldawaima said of Texas. "I would like to serve this country, to serve this state by helping people."
The ceremony only lasted about 45 minutes, but for many in the room, it represented years of work. Many obtained visas then green cards and over time learned to speak and read English.
It's a ceremony that leaves so many swelling with patriotism.
But perhaps no one has waited as long as 87-year old Khadijeh Asrslan Seeno, of Lebenon.
"It's a new life, a new beginning, and an American life," she said through a translator.