Naturalization ceremony highlights Trump's failed travel ban

The fact that Donald Trump is president isn't stopping immigrants from wanting to become U.S. citizens. A naturalization ceremony was held in Austin on Monday for 350 people from 69 countries.

The ceremony didn't only celebrate those being granted citizenship. A spotlight was also placed on President Trump's travel ban and tensions surrounding immigration.

For many, it's been years of waiting for this very moment.

"I'm Mexican but today, to be a U.S. citizen, I'm so proud," says Mirna Salazar, new U.S. citizen.

Mirna Salazar is from Monterrey, Mexico. She says now, more than ever, was the right time for her to become a U.S. citizen.

"I had to wait for five years. So as soon as the five years were complete, and then thinking about Trump and all this, we don't know what's going to happen later. So that's why we decided this is my time," says Salazar. 

Monday's naturalization ceremony was a sea of diversity - 350 people from 69 countries. It was held at the LBJ auditorium at the University of Texas. The dean of the School of Law was one of the speakers. He touched on the president's failed travel ban on several predominately Muslim countries.

"About a month ago there was a federal judge in Hawaii who said, the order is unconstitutional," says Dean Ward Farnsworth, University of Texas School of Law. 

Uncertainty about the future of travel and immigration has been a fear for many. Chenceline Bih from Cameroon, West Africa says she can now rest easy.

"I was scared because I knew they were like, he said he was going to repatriate back Africans or immigrants, so I was scared. I was like, well I hope I'm not in that group. So finally that now I have my citizenship, I know I'm secure," says Chenceline Bih, new U.S. citizen.

Now her focus is on her career. She's a registered nurse and working on becoming a nurse practitioner.

"I was so excited to come here and explore my dreams and be whatever I want to be," says Bih.

Immigration lawyer Thomas Esparza Jr. says many people applying for citizenship are from Asia and Mexico. He says the process has gotten tougher over the years.

"When I started practicing law in the 70s, the citizenship application was four pages long. Today it's 22 pages long with a couple of pages dedicated to questions about terrorism, criminal convictions and bad things that can mess themselves up," says Thomas Esparza Jr., immigration lawyer.

Salazar says the people at Monday's ceremony are good citizens.

"We want to work... change our life, a better life. That's why we are here," says Salazar.

Esparza jr. tells us the cost to become a U.S. citizen is dependent on a person's situation. It can range anywhere from $700, to several thousand dollars if an attorney is needed.

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